According to the latest M&A tracker survey from specialist bank, Investec, nearly €5.6bn worth of takeovers and mergers — involving Irish firms — took place during the first three months of this year, with biotech firm, Elan’s, sale of its 50% stake in multiple sclerosis drug, Tysabri, driving activity.
The quarter represented the highest combined deal value since the third quarter of 2010, when deals from glass and packaging group, Ardagh, and the sale of AIB’s Polish division boosted levels.
The €5.6bn transaction value, for the first quarter of this year, was a marked increase on the €792m worth of deals reported for the corresponding three months in 2012 and was still well up on the near €1.7bn transaction value recorded in the final quarter of last year.
However, the first quarter still saw an 11.5% decline in the actual volume of deals recorded, when compared to the last three months of 2012.
In all, 54 deals were recorded. This was up from the 51 in the first quarter of 2012, but down on the 61 recorded in the final three months of last year.
Of further significance, however, was the continued trend of Irish firms buying overseas companies.
Of the 25 such deals registered during the quarter, cement giant, CRH accounted for 15.
Overall, Investec proclaimed that the quarter marked a “reasonably good” start to 2013 and it expects further strong activity as the year progresses.
“We expect that the IT/telecoms; financial services and food/food services sectors will continue to see a significant number of transactions throughout the year, albeit with different drivers of activity and deal rationale,” according to Jonathan Simmons, director at Investec Corporate Finance.
He added that activity will also be driven by Government asset sales and “a marked increase” in deals driven by bank restructurings and other administrative processes, as well as more foreign acquisitions by larger Irish companies.