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M&A Review - Deal Focus

Ireland’s mid-market continues to dominate from an M&A perspective, with 97% of deals in the first half valued at between €5m and €250m.

These transactions were dispersed across a broad spread of sectors.

Still, while the first half of 2023 saw only a handful of larger deals in Ireland, several large transactions did stand out. These included deals in the pharmaceutical sector, as well as significant activity in business services and technology, media and telecoms (TMT) sectors.

The largest deal so far, recorded in the Irish M&A statistics due to the target’s Irish HQ – the purchase of UK incorporated company, Amryt Pharma, by Italy’s Chiesi Farmaceutici, valued at €1.34bn – was almost twice the size of the next biggest deal during the period. Chiesi’s determination to clinch the deal, paying a 107% premium over the pre-deal closing price of Amryt’s shares, reflects the value of Amryt’s drug development pipeline for the treatment of rare diseases, in which Chiesi Farmaceutici is particularly strong.

Other notable deals in the Pharma, Medical & Biotech sector announced in 2023 include the sale of a stake in Vivasure Medical to Haemonetics and Advanced Medical Solutions’ purchase of Connexicon Medical. In the first of these deals, Haemonetics is investing €30m in Vivasure, which produces vascular closure devices. The AMS deal for Connexicon, meanwhile, is part of its strategy to grow its surgical products expertise through M&A.

More broadly, these deals reflect a global M&A marketplace in which the pharmaceuticals industry has been a particularly bright spot. A flurry of deals in the industry began with Amgen’s announcement in December 2022 that it would acquire Horizon Therapeutics PLC, a Dublin-headquartered business with shares listed on Nasdaq.

The second largest deal of H1 2023 was the biggest private equity (PE) transaction of the year to date, with Exponent Private Equity selling the recycling and waste management business Enva Ireland to another PE, I Squared Capital, for €779m. Exponent had owned Enva for six years, with Enva growing its presence in the UK and Ireland, with a particular focus on hazardous and specialist waste. The company has also won plaudits for its development of low-carbon waste-derived materials as alternatives to traditional, extractive virgin materials.

The US group Ultimate Software Group or UKG announced a €575m deal for the payroll software company Immedis. It is acquiring the business from owners including CluneTech Group, the technology group operated by Kilkenny-based entrepreneur Terry Clune, and Scottish Equity Partners. Immedis has built a strong international business working with multinationals to manage payrolls across multiple countries.

In the only other deal valued at €500m or more in the first half of 2023, Kerry Group announced it would sell its Sweet Ingredients Portfolio business to Italy’s Irca. The business produces sweet and cereal products, mostly for the bakery, cereal, confectionery, dairy and ice cream markets in Europe and the US. Kerry plans to use the capital raised to support other areas of its business.

Click the image below for the full M&A Half Year Review 2023