Irish M&A activity up 48pc

9 Feb 2005

Irish merger and acquisition (M&A) activity grew 48pc during the last quarter of 2004 to €3.7bn, compared with €2.5bn a year earlier. However, the number of deals involved fell to 50 compared with 56 a year earlier. IT and telecoms acquisitions activity accounted for some 10pc of the overall deal volume but valued at €5.78m only 0.2pc of the value of deals.

According to the survey by Ion Equity, Irish buyers have bought a much greater proportion of foreign assets. However, purchases by overseas buyers such as Danske Bank’s acquisition of National Irish Bank for €1.4bn contributed greatly to the increase in M&A activity.

M&A acactivity in the IT and telecoms sector included Norkom’s acquisition of Belgian firm Data4s, US firm Clearwire’s purchase of a 75pc stake in Net2Cell, Smart Telecom’s purchase of a minority share in BBCL, AEP Systems’ acquisition of Netilla Networks and Mentec’s acquisition of UK firm Systation for €5m.

Future Human

“The trend of Irish individuals and corporates being major buyers of assets continues, further demonstrating Ireland’s increased wealth,” said Ion Equity director Joe Devine.

Looking forward to 2005, Devine said: “Given the positive trading conditions, we expect the trends established in 2004 to continue on to 2005. The Irish corporate landscape will continue to be characterised by a relatively small number of flagship deals and anecdotal evidence suggests that valuations have by no means hit any sort of ceiling.

“The exuberance surrounding recent AIM flotations is a good indication of current confidence and selective investments will continue to generate good returns for shrewd investors keen to seek out value,” Devine said.

By John Kennedy