This paper examines how deviation from firms’ target leverage influences their decisions on undertaking foreign acquisitions. Using a sample of 5,746 completed bids by UK acquirers from 1987 to 2012, we observe that over-deviated firms are more likely to acquire foreign targets. Consistent with co-insurance theory, we find that over-deviated firms engage in foreign acquisition deals to relieve their financial constraints and to mitigate their financial distress risk. We also note that foreign acquisitions enhance over-deviated firms’ value and performance, measured by Tobin’s q and return on assets (ROA) respectively. These findings support the view that over-deviated firms pursue the most value-enhancing acquisitions. Overall, this paper suggests that co-insurance effects, value creation and performance improvements are the main incentives for over-deviated firms’ involvement in foreign acquisitions.