Market analyst Plimsoll Publishing has published a study that highlights the UK’s most attractive and largest takeover target areas in the contract cleaning industry.

The report has analysed the 1,144 largest companies in the UK and has warned that the combination of elderly directors, low interest rates and stockpiling cash has left many of the companies open to acquisition.

This is also thanks to the sector beginning to prosper, evolve and consolidate once more.

The study also reveals that 294 companies are making a loss, 310 companies are ready to be taken over, 157 companies lose over a quarter of their value and 155 companies are in danger.

Plimsoll’s Lead Analyst, David Pattison, said that the businesses studied named as very attractive takeover targets are demonstrating the classic criteria required for acquisition.

Mr Pattison added that all these companies are seeing their financial strength decline, with many still privately owned and others with ageing board members.

Given the circumstances, he continued, it is possible that many of these directors will be looking to sell up or retire in the not too distant future.

He said that he expects to see an increase in acquisition activity in the wake of these findings, but believes that acquisition should not necessarily be viewed as a negative concept.

Rather, Mr Pattison believes, it provides a chance for both the seller and the buyer – the seller is given a new future and the opportunity to belong to a new company, while the buyer invests in and takes on a new business.

The study shows which areas of the UK are home to the most attractive acquisition prospects.

It shows that the Northern Home Counties lead the way with 68 prospects, while the Southern Home Counties are a distant second with 35 and Thames Valley comes in third with 26.

At the other end of the scale, South Wales is home to the least number of prospects with just four.