Accenture open to buying more Irish businesses as it closes ESP deal

Company has deployed an estimated $5bn in about 90 strategic acquisitions globally

Accenture has completed the acquisition of Cork-based life sciences services company Enterprise System Partners (ESP), and said it remains open to buying other Irish businesses.

Country manager Alastair Blair, who has led the company during a period in which local headcount has more than doubled to over 3,500, also said he expected further investment to be made at the Dock, the group's research and incubation hub, which is based in Dublin.

The deal for ESP, which was announced in March, is the professional services group's third Irish acquisition in less than four years. It acquired well-known creative agency Rothco in late 2017, and bought S3 TV Technology, a company that provides consulting, automated testing, service monitoring and diagnostic solutions to video service providers, in September 2015.

Founded in 2003, ESP currently services 17 of the top 20 global pharmaceutical and biotech companies. The company provides consulting and support services for manufacturing operations in biotechnology, pharmaceutical and medical devices. In particular it digitally tracks and documents the bio-pharma production process, leading to increased automation in the supply chain.


Irish companies

Mr Blair, who took over as head of the company here in 2014, refused to rule out acquiring other Irish companies in the years ahead.

“We’re not blatantly opportunistic, and we would be comfortable where we are at with acquisitions as we have a lot on our plate currently. Equally, though, one of the lead guys in acquisitions for Accenture is based in Dublin, so we’re keeping a close eye on who is out there.”

Accenture, which shifted its global headquarters to the Republic from Bermuda in 2009, has over the last five years deployed $5 billion in about 90 strategic acquisitions globally.

“There is no way the acquisition thing will stop,” said Mr Blair about the company’s strategy, which has seen it expand way beyond just offering consultancy services.“We don’t tend to do mega-acquisitions though, and we certainly don’t do tiny ones because they are almost always impossible to integrate and just lead to pain for both sides.”


Mr Blair said the Dock, which opened in early 2017 and employs about 300 people working across technologies such as artificial intelligence, block chain, data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT), will likely also expand in the coming years.

“We have to continue to invest in the Dock where we see an opportunity to do so. This is because at this stage we are no longer a consulting firm because people don’t want us to come in and just write reports for them. They are asking us to solve much tougher problems than that.”

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist