London (Reuters) - British business has invested the most in African mergers and acquisitions (M&A) over the past decade, a new study showed on Monday.
Investors have become increasingly attracted to Africa as it has begun to demonstrate strong economic growth, an emerging middle class, greater political stability and improved government balance sheets.
Britain was the top investor with 437 deals worth $30.5 billion since 2003, followed by France (141 deals worth $30.47 billion) and China (49 deals worth $20.8 billion), according to the figures compiled by international law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.
The African Development Bank said that African economic growth would hit 4.8 percent this year and 5.3 percent in 2014, led by West African commodity exporters such as Nigeria, Ghana and Ivory Coast.
China’s influence has often loomed large on the continent in terms of broader investment and trade, overtaking the United States as its largest trading partner in 2009, a February report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office showed.
The total value of deals in Africa by foreign investors has tripled to $183 billion in the past decade, with deal volumes up 109 percent at 2,417.
In terms of industries, metals and mining saw the most activity, with 752 deals worth $33.9 billion, followed by oil and gas (299 deals worth $29.6 billion) and wireless (33 deals worth $25.4 billion).
“Extractives and mining opportunities have been big drivers of growth,” said Bruce Embley, corporate partner at Freshfields. “However, consumer-related M&A could take the limelight as GDP per household continues to grow, the middle class in Africa expands and consumer demand rises.”
Editing by David Goodman