Interviews

5 interesting facts about foreign-owned businesses in the UK

2 min read

12 September 2014

The ONS has released some interesting data concerning the number and nature of foreign-owned businesses in the UK.

Many of the UK’s most iconic brands, from Cadbury to Land Rover, are now owned by foreign citizens and companies, but what is the reality of foreign-ownership in the UK? These stats from the Office of National Statistics drill down into the details:

1. Despite accounting for just 1 per cent of all UK non-financial businesses, foreign-owned companies are responsible for generating 29 per cent of UK GVA, or economic contribution. This is skewed somewhat by the size and type of businesses which are foreign-owned.

2. The number of foreign-owned companies is falling, but their contribution has increased. Between 2009 and 2012, the number of foreign-owned businesses fell by 3 per cent, particularly caused by a fall in the number of micro-businesses. Despite this fall, foreign-owned companies’ contribution to GVA grew by 19 per cent.

3. Foreign-owned businesses tend to be significantly larger than the average UK-owned business. Just 42 per cent are micro businesses (fewer than 10 employees) compared to 89 per cent of domestic-owned companies.10 per cent were categorised as “large” businesses (more than 250 staff), compared to 0.3 per cent of UK owned businesses.

4. Foreign-owned businesses are under-represented in the construction and services sectors. Just 4 per cent of construction and 50 per cent of services businesses were foreign-owned, compared to 13 per cent and 61 per cent of UK-owned companies. Instead a higher proportion of foreign-owned companies are in production and distribution.

5. European owners make up the majority (54 per cent) of foreign owners of UK companies, although the US is the most represented individual company, accounting for 25 per cent of all foreign owners of UK companies.