Irish M&A activity up 11% in Q1

Irish-related merger and acquisition & activity has further picked up since the start of the year, with foreign purchases by Irish companies playing a major role.

Data published by NCB Corporate Finance yesterday show that the volume of deals completed in the first three months of 2012 was up by 11.4% on the final quarter of 2011; with 51 deals carried out compared to 44 in the three months to the end of December.

While the first-quarter’s deal value — €792m — was down from the €922m in the same period last year, the number of deals carried out between the beginning of January and end of March is still broadly in line with 2011’s average quarterly deal volume of 55 transactions.

The sectors that saw the most activity in the first quarter of this year were financial services, food/food services, and IT/telecoms.

Jonathan Simmons, a director at NCB Corporate Finance, said those sectors are likely to see the most activity over the course of this year.

“We expect 2012’s [mergers and acquisitions] &market to be characterised by the continuing prevalence of trade buyers in conventional deal situations. It’s expected that there will be an increased proportion of total deals represented by bilateral transactions and an increase in the number of deals relating directly to the actions of the bank lenders, in particular retail bank lenders.”

The IT/telecoms sector accounted for 19.5% of total first-quarter deal volume; followed by the financial services sector on 17.6%. The food sector accounted for 9% of deals; with the most notable being Beam Inc’s €73m takeover of Irish whiskey maker Cooley.

Nineteen deals were represented by Irish firms buying foreign businesses; support services group DCC’s €39m takeover of Swedish energy firm Swea Energi being one of the largest.

The NCB data is based on like-for-like comparisons and is skewed, somewhat, as it doesn’t include the 22 transactions Dublin-based building materials giant CRH completed in the fourth quarter of last year, as the group still has to disclose transactions from the first quarter of this year.


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