A ‘banner year’ for M&A activity across Ireland

Katharine Byrne, Head of the BDO Corporate Finance team and a member of the BDO International M&A Group recently featured in The Irish Times Special Report on Mergers & Acquisitions.

Last year was a “banner year” for M&A activity, breaking all previous records, this was because the “bounce back” seen in the latter half of 2020 continued into 2021, says Katharine.

“The level of corporate transactions during 2021 has been exceptional not just because of the number of deals completed but also because of the valuations achieved. There were multiple transactions with deal values in excess of €1bn, including sale of well-known Irish companies such as CPL Resources, Valeo Foods, Panda Group and United Drug.”

The “scale and ambition” of Irish businesses attracted significant international interest, resulting in record-breaking valuations such as sale of E&I Engineering for €1.8bn and the €600m investment into Fenergo.

Business services has been a particularly active sector for private equity buyers with a lot of consolidation opportunities at the lower end of the mid-market, Katharine notes. “Over the last few years, the financial services has remained a hot sector for consolidation, particularly the sub-sectors of insurance and wealth management with increasing valuations as private equity-backed groups look for bolt-on acquisitions,” she says.

“Outside these ‘hot’ sectors we continue to see strong appetite for M&A across most sectors as both trade and PE buyers look to target businesses in growth markets with strong management teams,” she adds.

As 2022 progresses, many of the conditions favourable to high levels of M&A activity remain in place. “The record-breaking levels of M&A in Ireland last year not only signals the confidence in Irish companies but also highlights the ambition and ability of Ireland’s SMEs to scale-up and compete on the global stage,” Katharine says.

Content adapted from The Irish Times.