Life sciences a rare bright spot in muted Irish M&A activity last year - EY

Deal volumes in the Republic were down in 2023 but in value terms were up nearly 600 per cent year on year, according to EY analysis

Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in the Irish life sciences sector could be poised for growth in 2024, EY Ireland has said, after an uptick in the value of reported deals last year as big pharmaceutical giants returned to the negotiating table.

Seven deals took place within the Republic’s life sciences sector last year, a decline in volume terms from 2022 when 10 transactions took place. Deal volumes fell globally last year amid rising interest rates and other concerns.

However, the disclosed enterprise value of these seven deals was €1.5 billion, up 596 per cent on 2022, mostly due to Amryt Pharma’s sale to Italian pharmaceutical company Chiesi Farmaceutici for €1.3 billion.

According to the research, the value of M&A activity in the global life sciences sector also tilted upwards to $191 billion (€175.44 billion) in 2023 from $142 billion in 2022 as big pharma, facing “top-line pressures” from the impending loss of patent protections on key products, increased their deal activity.


The global industry retains “near record levels of firepower”, EY said, which could further boost deal values this year.

“In 2023, we witnessed the resurgence of significant deal making globally within big pharma,” said Aidan Meagher, EY Ireland tax partner and head of life sciences. “The challenge for companies across the sector – both here in Ireland and globally – is to ensure they make the right deals now to deliver lasting value into the future.”

EY said it expected the trend to continue this year as inbound revenue challenges crystallise for the larger companies and economic conditions continue to favour buyers in the market.

Ian Curran

Ian Curran

Ian Curran is a Business reporter with The Irish Times