Cross-border merger and acquisitions deals in the European Union hit a record high last year, with a total of 1,901 deals worth £56 billion, according to new figures from Acquisitions Monthly magazine.
The figures show a major increase on 1994, when 1,847 were completed at an overall value of £37.5 billion.
The US remained top of the league for acquiring EU companies with 426 buys worth £17.6 billion - around three times the amount spent by France in second place. These US takeovers include the largest 1995 deal - Upjohn's £4.1 billion merger with Pharmacia, of Sweden.
French companies made £5.9 billion in takeovers last year. The acquisition of UK Northumbrian Water by Lyonnaise des Eaux in December was worth £823 million.
Norway was the third largest acquirer with 363 deals worth £23.7 billion.