UK accounting group Dains buys Dublin-based firm amid deals flurry

UK business buying McInerney Saunders Chartered Accountants in Dublin

Dains, a private equity-backed UK accountancy group, has acquired McInerney Saunders Chartered Accountants in Dublin for an undisclosed sum, as it seeks to play a role in consolidation of the industry in the Republic.

McInerney Saunders, led by managing partner Owen Sheehy, and which has 55 employees and annual fees running at about €6 million, has been given a mandate by Dains to find merger deals in the market.

“When choosing a partner in Ireland, McInerney Saunders were an obvious fit – they are entrepreneurial, energetic and really care about client service,” said Richard McNeilly, chief executive of Dains Group. “Our combined business is now over 650 people and we look forward to significant growth in the UK and Ireland.”

Neal Morrison, a partner and head of mergers and acquisitions at McInerney Saunders, said that the Swords-based firm is “determined to grow our presence in Ireland, through strategic acquisition”. McInerney Saunders was founded in 1980.


The Irish accounting sector has seen a surge in deal making in the past 12 months as overseas firms, often backed by private equity money, seek to tap into the EU’s fastest growing economy and, paradoxically, an expected increase in debt restructurings as some sectors grapple with the lingering effects of the pandemic, inflation and heightened interest rates.

For small domestic practices, the burdens of mounting regulation and compliance, technology costs and succession planning, are also driving consolidation conversations in the sector.

London-based Azets purchased Baker Tilly Ireland early this year. Azets Ireland chief executive Neil Hughes said in October he plans to quadruple the firm’s 125-strong workforce over three years, including by acquisition.

ETL Global, the German-based accounting group that entered the Irish market last April by acquiring 51 per cent of the Noone Casey practice in Dublin, before following up later in the year with a second deal.

Elsewhere, IFAC Group, the farming and agribusiness accountancy firm, bought corporate restructuring and forensic accounting specialists Friel Stafford during the summer.

Cork accountancy and wealth management firm Quintas was bought in September by UK and Irish group Xeinadin for an undisclosed amount. The deal increased Xeinadin’s Irish headcount by almost 20 per cent to 455.

Dains has been an active buyer of UK accountancy firms since UK private equity firm Horizons acquired a stake in the business in 2021.

Dains’s chairman, Neil Cox, has also played a role in the consolidation of the Irish insurance broking sector in recent times. He was a partner in UK private equity company Sovereign Capital when it backed a management buyout in 2017 at Arachas, the acquisitive insurance broking group. He led the Sovereign investment and went on to sell the firm’s majority stake in Arachas in 2020.

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan is Markets Correspondent of The Irish Times