Our Corporate M&A Department recently published the William Fry Mid-year M&A Review 2014, in association with Mergermarket, which focuses on M&A activity in the first half of 2014 and looks at the likely trends for the remainder of the year.
In H1 2014, Irish M&A showed renewed impetus. The first half of the year saw 42 deals announced, a 31.3% increase on H1 2013’s figures, and the second highest H1 result since 2008. Values witnessed an even more dramatic boost, with €39.3bn worth of deals announced in H1 2014 – the highest ever Mergermarket-tracked figure for a half-year period in Irish M&A.
Encouragingly, opportunistic foreign buys are not the only drivers of this uplift in M&A figures. Bidders are looking to the country because of the quality of Irish targets. In particular, the consumer sector has been a big driver of this, with the nine deals conducted in H1 2014 outstripping the sector’s deal numbers for the whole of 2013.
The Irish M&A horizon
Ireland’s M&A at present is looking much healthier as we enter the latter stages of 2014. Encouragingly, a range of factors – both macro and micro – are pointing to a brighter future.
The country is still attracting foreign investors, demonstrated by the fact that US companies remain the top buyers in Ireland. Encouragingly, domestic M&A is also rising, with nearly one-half of all transactions in H1 2014 being “home-grown” purchases. It is no longer just a case of investors and companies coming to Ireland looking for distressed assets “on the cheap”; it is a story of companies and investors buying healthy companies with excellent growth prospects.
The increase in volume, value and diversity of Irish M&A is positive. As we noted in our Review of 2013 issued earlier this year, challenges remain, particularly around debt levels, but the increased prominence of both domestic M&A and key foreign players is paving the way for a healthier and more active market, with quality businesses being targeted for the growth opportunities they offer.
Contributed by Bryan Bourke
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