Global investors are keen to invest in valuable Irish companies, says a co-founder of one of Ireland’s most progressive law firms.
Cork-based solicitors Regan Wall are talking to multiple international investors seeking information about high-value Irish companies across all sectors. Having been tentative for the first few weeks of lockdown, overseas investors are now eager to get back on the pitch, with high-value Irish companies very much on their minds.
Regan Wall advised Dublin City University spin-out Iconic Translation Machines on its recent acquisition by by London-listed RWS Holdings in a deal worth up to $20m (€17.8m). Doctor John Tinsley and Doctor Páraic Sheridan founded language technology software company Iconic in 2013.
“Covid has meant that we don’t meet people for coffee, which we do miss to be honest, but our business has continued to grow all the same,” said Kieran Regan, who formed Regan Wall along with Adrian Wall in 2018. “My last face-to-face meeting with John and Páraic was in November; we managed the whole deal remotely.
“I suppose lockdown has shown that it doesn’t matter if you’re in Cork, Dublin, or London, people are interested in a quality service not location.”
Closer to home, Regan Wall also recently advised Keelvar, a UCC spinout specialising in AI supply chain software, on securing $18m in Series A funding. The round was led by Elephant and Mosaic Ventures, with participation from Paua Ventures.
“We are being approached by clients who are looking for acquisition opportunities. For instance, we might look at high-value Irish companies with older directors who perhaps don’t have any succession plan in place,” said Mr Regan. “They may be considering selling.
“I suppose if you look at the deals we’ve advised on, you might say they tend to have a strong tech element to them, but that may just be because we’re a relatively young law firm so maybe we’re swayed that way.
“However, the investors who are approaching us tell us that they are sector agnostic. They are interested in looking at any opportunity. There are a lot of global companies out there who have not been too heavily impacted by Covid-19, they have resources and they want to invest in the right opportunities.”
Mr Regan likens that global investor appetite for spending to some well-paid staff in large Irish-based tech and pharma companies who have amassed savings during lockdown.
One local car dealership, and a client of Regan Wall, is currently enjoying a phenomenal 75% conversion rate on sales enquiries. People in some quarters have clearly built up some extra disposable income.
“A lot of UK and US companies want to grow through acquisition, and they’re looking at Irish companies,” he said.
“Any business that was strong prior to Covid will be strong after lockdown eases. That’s how investors view opportunities in Ireland.”
Of course, Regan Wall also captured attention in legal circles when the firm formed an advisory board laden with seasoned executives: Brendan Lenihan, managing director of Navigo Consulting; Daire Coffey, founder of Perspectives; and Brendan O’Regan, founder and former executive chairman of Zenith Technologies.
Regan Wall is the first Irish law firm to appoint an advisory board of this kind. The board will work with the firm’s partners to advise on strategic growth and direction.
Regan Wall managing partner, Adrian Wall, said: “We have all had to adapt to a new way of working and our firm has taken full advantage of its existing agile practices and remote working tools, to continue to complete major transactions for clients.
“The appointment of our new advisory board, which has been long-planned, could not have come at a more opportune time. By leveraging the perspectives of business leaders from a variety of backgrounds, Regan Wall will benefit from their strategic advice and in-depth guidance as we navigate the current climate.”
Mr Regan said: “The last few months has seen significant change for Regan Wall as we adapted to remote working, completed several transactions for clients, including the recent Keelvar funding round, and hired more solicitors. Our new Advisory Board members will ensure we maintain our competitive edge as we plan the next steps for the firm.”
Brendan Lenihan will chair the advisory board. A former president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland, he has acted as a strategic advisor to numerous successful Irish businesses. He is also a non-executive director of Bus Éireann, the HSE, and a number of private companies.
Daire Coffey, a chartered director, has held senior and director roles at United Drug and with Enterprise Ireland in Dublin and Brussels. He is an accredited executive coach and was previously a business mentor with the Dublin City Enterprise Board.
Brendan O’Regan is the founder and former executive chair of Zenith Technologies, a world leader in delivering digital transformation solutions to the life sciences sector. He led Zenith while it attracted investment from GE Healthcare, and during its subsequent sale to Fortune 500 company, Cognizant.
Regan Wall works with clients across the corporate and tech sectors. The firm recently advised Irish scientific software company Statsols, which developed clinical trial platform, nQuery, on its acquisition by global technology company Insightful Science.
Earlier this year, a team led by Regan Wall partner Adam Griffiths, also worked on the acquisition of Irish validation services business, QualUs, by Danish company, Ellab (supported by EQT).
This follows on from another notable deal in the first quarter of 2020 when the firm represented Kerry technology company, ViClarity, on its merger with US financial services firm, PolicyWorks LLC.