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Ireland Proves a Resilient M&A Market Compared to European and Global Markets

Transactions up, value down for Irish M&A Activity in 2023

William Fry has issued its annual report on Irish M&A activity in 2023. A total of 334 qualifying deals were recorded within the Irish M&A market, an increase of 10% on figures from 2022. The total deal value came to €11.8bn, down €3bn or 20% on the previous year.

Key findings for the Ireland report in 2023 include:

  • 225 inbound cross-border transactions, worth a total of €11.3bn
  • Five deals worth more than €500m
  • Most transactions continued to be categorised as mid-market, 86% of deals worth between €5m and €250m
  • Financial services remains the largest sector by value (35%) while technology, media and telecoms (TMT) accounted for 25% by volume in 2023.
  • Private equity (PE) activity remained strong with a total of 58 transactions.

Mark Talbot, Corporate/M&A Partner, noted:

Against a global backdrop of negative economic and political news, Ireland’s mergers and acquisitions (M&A) market in 2023 proved to be resilient.

“The number of deals, at 334, was up 10% and compares very favourably to the performance of the wider European market (down 11.4%) and global markets (down 15.8%) for the year. However, the aggregate value of Irish M&A deals reached just €11.8bn, down 20% compared to 2022. It should be noted, however, that dealmaking in Ireland remains very healthy by historical (pre-Covid) standards. A large proportion of Irish M&A activity is driven by non-Irish acquirors whose appetite to do higher value deals was somewhat diminished in 2023 by factors such as rising interest rates, high inflation and political instability.”


Mid-market transactions once again dominated M&A activity in Ireland in 2022, with 254 transactions out of 334 having values of between €250m and €500m. The larger end of the market had slightly reduced levels of activity with five transaction worth more than €500m in 2023, down from a total of seven in the same category in 2022.

Sector Watch

The financial services sector was the largest sector by value and accounted for 35% of the deals in 2023. This included the largest deal of the year, the €3.3bn acquisition of Pembroke Aircraft Leasing by AviLease.  The second largest financial services acquisition was AXA’s €650m purchase of Laya Healthcare. In terms of deal volume, the technology, media, and telecoms (TMT) sector was once again the dominant sector within the market, however the profile of these transactions has evolved to reflect smaller more specialist transactions. HR software developer UKG’s €575m acquisition of Immedis, a payroll platform provider proved to be an exception, despite the travails of the technology sector globally where valuations on listed markets worldwide have fallen back over the past 12 to 18 months.

Inbound Activity

Ireland remains very attractive to overseas bidders. Approximately two-thirds of the deals (67%) in 2023 involved an overseas bidder with 225 transactions overall. Collectively, those deals were valued at €11.3bn, or 96% of the total value of M&A transactions in 2023. This included 19 of the largest 20 transactions. While the volume of the inbound activity was up slightly by 2%, the value of inbound transactions declined 12%.  UK-based acquirers were the most active accounting for 80 transactions while US acquirers were responsible for 50 deals in the year. Finally, it is worth noting that the number of transactions between Irish parties rose by 30% in 2023 from 84 deals to 109.

Private Equity

Private equity (PE) activity decreased in 2023 with 58 transactions down 11% from 65 in 2022. Collectively, the 58 transactions were worth €2.2bn. It is important not to overstate the decline in PE deals as levels remain robust compared with pre-pandemic years. The largest transaction was I Squared Capital Advisors’ acquisition of Enva Ireland for €779m from Exponent Private Equity.

The reduced PE investor activity in Ireland reflected reduced activity in European and North American markets as well. Given tighter monetary policy, the industry can no longer raise money at ultra-low interest rates. Given the limited number of trade buyers, PE sentiment is likely to continue to weigh on the market generally.


Looking ahead to 2024, Mark Talbot concluded: “The outlook for M&A in Ireland during 2024 is mixed. On the one hand, a more stable interest rate environment coupled with Ireland’s resilient economic performance will encourage positivity, with many Irish companies continuing to punch above their weight. Conversely, it will be difficult for the Irish market to avoid the considerable risk that negative international factors could lead to a conservative approach being taken by strategic and PE buyers in 2024.

“Ireland faces a national election at some point in the next 15 months. The potential for significant policy changes not only in Ireland but also in the jurisdictions of our largest FDI acquirors seems unlikely to help encourage more active dealmaking in 2024.

Finally, new rules seeking to control the foreign (i.e. non-EEA) acquisition of strategic Irish businesses are due to come into force early in 2024. Observers will be keenly watching the manner in which the new procedures are implemented.

Click on the image below to download the full report.

M&A review 2023