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22 August, 2011 - 10:50 By News Desk

Foreign buyers to devour UK firms and assets

David Farrow, managing director, Barclays Corporate, Eastern

Business bosses in the UK’s East of England believe more companies like Cambridge-based Autonomy will be swallowed up by cash rich foreign buyers over the next decade.

 Businesses quizzed by Barclays Corporate predict steady growth, an increase in real GDP and an improved business landscape in the next 10 years – but  they also expect foreign ownership of UK companies and assets to jump.

Barclays Corporate’s ‘Business in 2021’ research surveyed 664 business leaders across the UK on the conditions they expect their businesses to face in a decade.

East of England companies predict that foreign investors stand to benefit from the growth of British businesses. Foreign ownership of UK companies and assets is predicted to increase over the next decade by 83 per cent. The research found respondents generally positive about the UK’s long term economic prospects with half expecting the UK to be a better place to do business in 2021.

Views vary significantly between regions – more than two-thirds of respondents in the eastern region are positive about the future, compared with just 44 per cent of London companies.

Certain sectors are also far less confident about the future, with retailers the least positive over the long term; 55 per cent predicting the UK will be a worse place to do business in 10 years. Conversely, 63 per cent of tech sector businesses see the UK as offering a better place to do business in 2021. More than half of businesses in the East of England predict steady and sustained growth over the coming decade, with new technology the key driver. David Farrow, managing director, Barclays Corporate, Eastern said: “It is clear that the majority of businesses in the region believe in the fundamental strength of the UK as a place to do business, and this underlines the temporary nature of the challenges we are currently experiencing.

“It is also telling to see that businesses in Eastern are generally more positive about their region than the UK as a whole, showing the importance of regional development. “To see so many businesses anticipating steady and sustained economic growth over the next decade should also be welcome news for a Government that is focussed on developing a growth strategy.

“The UK has been a magnet for foreign direct investment for more than two decades bringing both benefits and challenges. While we can expect more international investment in the UK to stimulate economic development and job creation, there also needs to be consideration given to the fact decision making, research and development and tax generation may be located elsewhere.”

• PHOTOGRAPH: IP could end up abroad, warns Barclays Corporate MD Eastern, David Farrow

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