Ireland's M&A market plunges 75pc as European values fall 30pc
IRELAND's mergers and acquisitions market collapsed by more than 75pc last year, far out-stripping the 30pc fall in the value of transactions recorded across Europe.
The hefty drop was revealed in new data released yesterday by information services company Experian, which compiles quarterly data on global M&A activity
The latest Experian missive shows just €8.2bn worth of M&A deals were carried out in Ireland last year, a 76pc fall on the €34.2bn of deals done in 2008. The value fall far outstrips the drop in the number of deals completed, which fell just 32pc to 221, suggesting lower prices and smaller scale activity in the most recent period.
That suggestion is borne out in the more detailed breakdown, which shows that the number of deals worth under €10m actually rose in 2009, when 56 "small cap" deals were done compared to the 46 sealed in 2008.
In contrast "mid-cap" deals, worth between €10m and €100m, were sharply down in 2009, with just 46 transactions done in 2009 against 77 a year earlier.
The trend continued into the "large" deals, with just 13 of those €100m plus M&As sealed last year, well below the 27 big transactions completed in 2008.
Broken out figures for Ireland's fourth quarter of the year shows the weak level of activity held up right to the end, with 2009's final three months quarter coming in behind 2008's.
"Clearly some regions have suffered more than others in terms of dropping deal values and volumes," said Brian Rarity, of Experian subsidiary Corpfin, referring to Ireland's 2009 performance.
He declined, however, to "speculate" on why the Irish activity fell off by so much more than the year's 30pc fall in deal values Europe-wide, and the 23.5pc fall in European deal volumes.
Asked about the prospects for a pick up in activity in 2009, Mr Rarity declined to venture beyond his comments in Experian's statement on the findings -- "let us hope that 2010 will bring better news".
Across Ireland's generally quiet landscape, highlights of last year included Johnson & Johnson's $1bn (€690m) investment to take an 18.4pc stake in local drug maker Elan, and Bord Gais' €500m acquisition of wind energy firm SWS.