Five companies in Ireland vie for ‘Deal of the Year’ award

AIB, Total Produce, Circle Internet Finance, Noonan Services and Statsports nominated

Five companies have been shortlisted for Deal of the Year for The Irish Times's inaugural business awards competition, which is being held in association with KPMG. The winner will be announced at a gala event in the Mansion House in Dublin on May 9th.

AIB returns to market

The banks are back in business, as evidenced by AIB’s return to the main stock markets in Dublin and London last year.

The initial public offering (IPO), the first sale of shares in AIB since it was taken into State ownership following the 2008 crash, boosted exchequer coffers by €3.4 billion while also reducing the Government’s stake to 71 per cent.

Shares in AIB have risen by a quarter in value since its IPO at €4.40 a share. It is now thought the State may seek to sell further shares to cash in on increased interest in the lender.


AIB had already returned €6.8 billion of cash to the State, including capital payments, interest and fees for government guarantees.

Circle Internet Finance snaps up Poloniex

Circle, a fintech firm with its headquarters in Dublin, acquired the Boston-based cryptocurrency exchange Poloniex in late February in a move expected to make it one of the biggest players in the booming sector.

While no sums were officially disclosed, Fortune valued the deal at about $400 million (€327 million).

Poloniex has grown to become one of the world’s leading token marketplaces. Available in more than 100 countries, it was one of the first exchanges in the world to offer liquidity in ethereum, and to reach $1 billion in daily volume.

It looks like a smart deal for Circle, which set up its international headquarters in Ireland in July 2014 and has secured almost $140 million in investment with backers that include Goldman Sachs, Accel Partners and Pantera Capital.

The company recently announced plans to increase its workforce to 400 from 150 as it confirmed it had reached profitability, and forecast further revenue and profit growth in 2018.

Noonan Services sold for €175 million

Whether the €175 million acquisition of Dublin-based facilities management, security and contract cleaning firm Noonan Services ends up being a good deal for buyer South African BidVest remains to be seen.

But it was certainly a nice move for senior management at Noonan, who are believed to have secured a €20 million-plus payday from their new owners.

BidVest confirmed last August it was buying out London-based private equity firm Alchemy Partners, and Noonan's management's stake in the company, marking its second change in ownership in less than a decade.

Noonan Services, set up in 1977 by Limerick man Noel Noonan, had seen its revenues treble to more than €300 million since its takeover by Alchemy in 2008, as it expanded in Ireland and the UK.

The new deal should give the group, which employs more than 13,000 people, additional firepower as it continues to eye up acquisitions.

Statsports nets £1 billion US soccer deal

Irish sports technology firm Statsports Technologies scored an impressive £1 billion (€1.14 billion) deal with the official governing body of soccer in the United States in late March that will lead to millions of players using its monitoring devices to aid performance on the pitch.

The five-year partnership with the US Soccer Federation is also expected to help it to uncover the next generation of elite players.

The deal represents the world’s largest player data-monitoring programme. It is also believed to be the biggest contract ever to be signed in the elite sports wearables market.

Statsports Apex device is worn in a vest and positioned between the shoulder blades by players during training and matches. It captures vital data such as distances run, and speed to ensure athletes are working at their maximum.

The Newry-headquartered currently employs about 50 people but the self-financed company is expecting to take on additional staff. A fundraising round is also expected to accelerate the company’s growth.

Total Produce to take stake in Dole

Total Produce, the food distributor spun out of Fyffes more than a decade ago, showed just how serious it is about growing its presence in the United States when it announced plans to acquire a 45 per cent stake in Dole Foods, one of the world's largest producers of fruit and vegetables.

Dole, which was valued at about $2 billion following the $300 million cash transaction, generated revenue and adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of $4.5 billion (€3.7 billion) and $237 million respectively for the 12 months ending October 2017.

To help fund the deal, Total Produce successfully placed 63 million new ordinary shares with investors, raising gross proceeds of €145 million. Analysts expect the company to exercise its right to purchase all the shares in Dole within five years.

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist