SCOTLAND could see more blockbuster takeovers next year with sectors like technology in focus amid sustained mergers and acquisitions activity, one of Scotland’s leading dealmakers has said.

“We could see a couple of mega deals in either half,” said David Leslie, who formed his own advisory firm this year after spending 20 years running Scottish corporate finance operations for accountancy giants PwC and Price Waterhouse.

Mr Leslie believes a range of Scottish firms could attract strong interest from giants prepared to pay big sums for relatively small businesses to help strengthen their positions in fast- changing global markets.

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“Scotland has some cracking technology companies,” he said in his first interview since launching Leslie Corporate Finance in September. “There are lots that may be quite small but could have a strategic significance.”

Mr Leslie notes that companies around the world are using acquisitions to ensure they have the right digital platforms and to control as much useful technology as they can.

There could also be big financial services deals amid the consolidation process in a sector where firms are scaling up in the quest to increase efficiency and to extend their customer bases.

This year saw Standard Life agree a £11 billion merger with Aberdeen Asset Management to help give it the clout to compete for fund management business in fast-growing markets such as China.

While oil and gas market conditions remain challenging there are lots of companies with substantial resources that may be in the market for deals at the right price.

The fall in the pound has increased the appeal of some Scottish assets.

Mr Leslie noted US corporations in particular have huge sums to spend.

However, Scottish firms will not just be on the receiving end of bid interest.

The Brexit vote has caused uncertainty but not so much that people are putting deal activity on hold. “There’s a background of uncertainty but a common theme is a get on with it mentality in boardrooms,” noted Mr Leslie, predicting that will feed through into 2018.

“I think Scottish entrepreneurs and business people are quite robust and realistic.”

Mr Leslie will work across the spectrum of activity at his new firm, from big ticket deals to smaller transactions. He has been very pleased with the response he has had to the launch of the business.

This has left him feeling that M&A activity in Scotland next year will be in line with the levels seen this year. “There’s some good quality deal flow out there,” said the Glasgow University graduate.

He noted there have been several big deals involving Scottish firms this year in spite of uncertainty about Brexi and the challenges posed by inflationary pressures and the first increase in interest rates since 2007.

The £90m acquisition of Singapore’s KOP Surface Products by Weir Group and Aggreko’s £40m purchase of German battery storage firm Younicos showed the fall in the pound had not stopped Scottish firms from expanding overseas.

The signs are there could be fairly strong deal activity in the small and medium sized enterprise market.

Mr Leslie noted some private equity players will be keen to back acquisitions that will speed the growth of firms they have invested in.

Nevis Capital’s Brian Aitken underlined the firm’s appetite for deals after it took a significant stake in Glasow-based Merkland Tank in November.

While stock markets have been volatile they have remained pretty open, providing a way for Scottish firms such as clothing retailer Quiz and the Freeagent accounting software business to raise funding this year.

“There has been and there will be quite a liquid market for that SME space,” said Mr Leslie.

A range of firms owned by people in their 50s or older may come on to the market.

But in terms of the full year outcome much will depend on what happens in the Brexit talks and the outcome of Donald Trump’s foreign policy moves.

“If there’s clarity on Brexit and what’s going on with the US we could see quite a big pick up in the second half,” said Mr Leslie, who noted bad news on either front could weigh on activity.