Companies big and small turn to mergers and acquisitions to boost top-line growth, but last year corporate takeovers remained thin on the ground thanks to the ongoing dearth of bank lending.

Kraft’s £11.6bn takeover of Cadbury in January did not, as had been widely predicted, herald more deal activity.

The much-anticipated merger between Northern Foods and Greencore fell through and it was not until early 2011 that Boparan took Northern’s hand in marriage. Only four acquisitions with confirmed values of more than £20m - Seafood Holdings, Gü, O’Kane Poultry and Bart Spices - were completed in 2010.

“We are starting to see activity again, but it’s a year later than expected,” says Hayllar.

Source: Mergermarket; OC&C Analysis Notes: Deals exclude private deals where value was not disclosed and abandoned deals.