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Value of mergers and acquisitions quadrupled in 2015
March, 29th 2016

The total value of mergers and acquisitions in the Republic more than quadrupled last year, mainly due to the Pfizer acquisition of Allergan.

The fifth annual William Fry M&A Review shows the value rose from €45.3bn in 2014 to €189bn in 2015, while the number of deals dropped from 120 in 2014 down to 104 in 2015.

The figures include the €172.6bn “megadeal” of the Pfizer acquisition of Allergan which was announced in November.

Excluding that deal, Ireland’s M&A sector still recorded a significant increase, with value up 41 per cent on 2014 from €11.4bn to €16.1bn.

The next largest deal was Bohai Leasing’s purchase of Avolon Holdings for €6.5bn, while the second largest was the purchase of King Digital Entertainment by Activision Blizzard for €5.3bn.

William Fry said the “most notable trend” in 2015 was that half of all transactions with an Irish element were outbound - the highest on record for Irish businesses making overseas acquisitions.

The figure was higher than those recorded in other countries such as France (31 per cent); Germany (29 per cent) and the UK (28 per cent).

Although outbound deals accounted for greater volume of transactions, inbound deals dominated by value, with nine out of 10 largest deals by value in 2015 involving foreign bidders – four from the US; three from Europe and two from Asia-Pacific.

“Much of Ireland’s continued growth in the sector can be attributed to greater access and choice in source of finance, reflecting a return to more stable investment opportunities,” said the review.

“This access to affordable finance was due in large part to the ECB’s quantitative easing programme which released €1.1tn and made it more affordable to borrow from the banks.

“Ireland continues to attract capital from other sources including debt financiers and private equity. This trend of debt funding is likely to continue in 2016.”

Whilst the overall deal value is up, the number of deals recorded is down by 14 per cent to 104 from the 120 recorded in 2014.

There has also been change in the sectors recording the highest volume of deals, with TMT accounting for almost one-third of the deals recorded in Ireland, at 29 per cent.

The next greatest volume was in the leisure services sector, accounting for 13 per cent, with notable deals including Lone Star’s purchase of Jurys Inn for €900m and the €30m acquisition of Adare Manor by the McManus family.

Deals in the property sector also continued to recover in 2015, recording 6 per cent of overall volume, up from 3 per cent in 2014 and the highest recorded since 2007.

Over 500 construction projects commenced last year and there were strong levels of investment, such as €3.7bn in commercial property, including the much publicised sale of the Project Jewel portfolio by NAMA for €1.8bn.

The number of deals involving the business services sector also doubled from 6 per cent to 12 per cent.

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