Irish M&A activity jumps to seven-year high in 2015

Number of mergers and acquisitions up 10%, from 416 to 458 deals

Pharmaceutical and biotech-led deals accounted for the lion’s share of transactions recorded here in 2015

Irish mergers and acquisitions (M&A) reached a seven-year high in 2015, according to new figures published by Experian.

It says the overall number of M&A deals carried out here rose by 10 per cent last year, from 416 to 458, the strongest performance seen since 2008.

The total value of transactions more than doubled from €154 billion to €312 billion in 2015 making it the most valuable year for corporate deal making in Ireland.

Not surprisingly, pharmaceutical and biotech-led deals accounted for the lion’s share of transactions recorded here in 2015. Overall, the number of deals in the sector worth over €1 billion, jumped from nine in 2014 to 19 last year with the value of such transactions rising from €132 billion to €283 billion.


The biggest deal last year in Ireland was Pfizer's €143.5 billion takeover of Allergan, which was announced in late November. The deal, which was widely criticised in the US, sees Pfizer moving it corporate headquarters to Dublin in a move that will cut its tax bill in the United States.

Teva's €35 billion acquisition of Allergan's generic pharma business was the second biggest M&A transaction, followed by Shire's €29.5 billion takeover of Baxalta. Insurance brokering giant Willis Group and financial management services provider Towers Watson $15.5 billion merger and CRH's €7.6 billion acquisition of Holcim and Lafarge assets round out the top five deals.

Irish M&A deals accounted for just 3.6 per cent of all European transactions but for 20.5 per cent of their total value in 2015. This compares to just 12.7 per cent of value for a similar percentage of deals a year earlier.

The leading legal advisor on Irish deals by volume was A&L Goodbody. Arthur Cox topped the table in terms of value of transactions. Davy was the lead financial advisor.

"With confidence high and the anticipation of further growth in the Irish economy, domestic and international dealmakers will now be conducting thorough research as they hunt for businesses ripe for investment in 2016," said Jane Turner, head of corporate finance research of Experian.

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist