Irish M&A reaches record level in first half of the year

Value of deals soar on back of pharma transactions meaning Ireland accounted for almost 20% of all European activity

Actavis’s acquisition of Forest Laboratories for approximately €  18 billion was one of the largest M&A deals in the first half of the year. Photograph:   Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Actavis’s acquisition of Forest Laboratories for approximately € 18 billion was one of the largest M&A deals in the first half of the year. Photograph: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Wed, Jul 9, 2014, 12:10

A flurry of high value M&A deals in the pharmaceutical sector has pushed the value of Irish deals to a record € 97.4 billion in the first six months of the year, up from just € 14.8billion in the same period in 2013. This means that Irish M&A accounted for almost 20 per cent of total European activity.

According to information services provider Experian, the value of H1 deals is the highest half yearly total recorded for Ireland on its database, which dates back to 1993.The number of deals also increased, up to 147, but at a more modest rate of increase of 18.5 per cent.

Although Irish deals represented just 3.3 per cent of the total volume of Euroepan deals, it accounted for 17.7 per cent of their total value.

The largest deals in the period were all in the pharmaceuticals sector, and includedActavis‘s acquisitionof Forest Laboratories for approximately € 18billion and US firm Medtronic‘s agreement to acquire Covidien for over € 30billion.

When looked at by number, manufacturing deals dominated in H1, with 30.6 per cent of deals; however, deal volumes here were down by 33 per cent to 45. Similarly, the next most active sector, wholesale, retail & repair which represented 19 per cent of transactions, also saw activity decline by 30 per cent when compared to the same period last year.

Growth sectors in H1 2014 includedfinancial services, where transaction volume was up by 57 per cent, mining & quarrying (an increase of 66 per cent) and information technology (an increase of 16 per cent).

Mid-market deal activity also increased, and 35 transactions were announced, up from 25, with the value of such deals up by 29.6 per cent to € 1.75billion. Notable deals included the € 104million acquisition of the healthcare communications business of UK firm Knowledgepoint 360 by Dublin firm UDG Healthcare.

Small deals - under €12million - also grew in the first six months of the year, up from 19 to 31transactions, and by value, up from €103millionto € 140millon.

Law firm A&L Goodbody represented the most deals by number (15), with Arthur Cox in pole position when deals are ranked by value (€55.9m), according to Experian. Davy was the busiest financial adviser, working on 14 deals in the first six months of the year.