More M&A activity for Irish tech sector – Donal Duffy, Bank of Ireland (video)

24 Sep 2014

Merger and acquisition activity in the indigenous Irish tech sector is likely to increase for the foreseeable future, says Donal Duffy, director of corporate banking at Bank of Ireland.

“Bank of Ireland has a very positive view of the tech sector at the moment and we are optimistic for the future of the sector,” Duffy said.

“We’ve a long history in the tech sector in Ireland, investing in the sector and we’ve invested in a number of companies who have gone on to be successful businesses. They’ve scaled or been acquired, which is a positive aspect of the sector.”

Last week Bank of Ireland and UCC conducted a study of 142 Irish tech companies and found that 58pc of firms saw an increase in revenues in the last 12 months.

Fifteen percent cited data analytics as a growth engine while 14pc said increased device and sensor connectedness – aka the Internet of Things – would present opportunities for growth.

When asked what banks could do to better support the sector, respondents wanted greater supports for early stage companies and improvement in online platforms.

The next level

“We’d like to see more of our companies involved in more M&A activity and that is the next stage of the development of the sector,” Duffy said.

Bank of Ireland has identified the technology sector as one of the biggest growth sectors of the Irish economy and has invested €150m in 150 companies through funds with Delta Partners, Kernel Capital and the BDO Development Capital Fund.

“We continue to invest in the sector through our people and creating more infrastructure and knowledge base for staff,” Duffy explained.

He said the bank has been investing in resources and research to ensure that front line as well as specialized staff are equipped to deal with the more specific nuances involved in working with tech companies.

“We have hired some technical expertise and invested heavily in our frontline people to make sure they have the required knowledge and experience to deal with the tech sector. We recognize this is a sector with specific skills in place and through our people develop this sector best.

“In terms of the trends in the sector we think there are a large number of start-ups there now that have been seeded over the last number of years and these companies are now moving to a stage where some of them are in a position to acquire some debt and we are beginning to see that opportunity coming through,” Duffy said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years