own over half of UK
top firms

Have your say

Foreign ownership of Britain’s biggest firms has rocketed by more than 10 per cent, or £167.7bn since 2010, official figures have shown.

A share ownership analysis of UK-domiciled firms found they were worth a total of £1.7 trillion in 2014, the latest year statistics available.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), foreign investors increased their share of these firms from 43.4 per cent in 2010 to 53.6 per cent in 2012 and 53.8 per cent by 2014.

In value terms, this meant foreign ownership jumped from £760.9bn five years ago to £862bn in 2012 and then £928.6bn last year.

The total for foreign ownership includes both individual and institutional investors.

According to the ONS report, the large increases seen since 1994 “reflect the increasing internationalisation of the London stock market and the increasing ease with which overseas residents can invest in UK-quoted shares, for example through electronic trading”.

It added: “As a result, a substantial part of the ownership of rest of the world investors represents international investors owning international companies.”

Looking at a geographical breakdown, North America was by far the biggest owner, with 46 per cent of all foreign ownership.

European investors owned 26 per cent, while those living in Asia held 16 per cent of quoted UK shares.

Among the other key findings in the study, there was a notable rise in the holdings by individual investors based in the UK.

In 2012, this stood at £162bn, or 10.1 per cent, but two years later it had jumped to £206.2bn (11.9 per cent). Such an increase could be the result of more UK savers turning to shares amid poor interest rates on savings accounts.

A spokesperson at finance site Moneyfacts said: “Savers have slowly watched savings rates on their accounts plummet to all-time lows.”