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Sunday 31 August 2014

Strong global M&A offers opportunities for Irish technology firms

Published 06/06/2014 | 11:01

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Former RTE anchor and entrepreneur Mark Little who became a self-made millionaire before Christmas when he sold his start-up business Storyful to Rupert Murdoch for some €6m.
Former RTE anchor and entrepreneur Mark Little who became a self-made millionaire before Christmas when he sold his start-up business Storyful to Rupert Murdoch for some €18m - his shares were worth €6m.

INCREASED global activity in the technology mergers and acquisition (M&A) market offers opportunities for Irish firms, a conference has heard.

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Technology entrepreneur Ray Nolan, Storyful's Mark Little and Havok's David Coghlan gave their insights into selling a tech business.

Speaking at the “Selling your tech company: insights, earnouts and outcomes”conference, Martin Kelleher, partner at law firm, Mason Hayes & Curran, also highlighted some of the opportunities.

Kelleher has advised on some of the country's most successful technology deals including the recent sales of Storyful to News Corporation and AMT-Sybex to Capita.

He said tech giants are currently in acquisition mode, offering founders the prospect of growing their companies further through a strategic sale.

Attendees heard a number of tips, including:

1. Being exit ready from day one: Even before forming the company, know how you want to leave;

2. Beware of legal time bombs: think of best and worst case situations early on in sale process;

3. An exit is not always the end:  it can be the entrance to new opportunities;

Most firms are bought, not sold as the purchaser normally comes knocking;

4. Consider your universe of purchasers and seek to build business relationships as they can be route to exit;

5. Due diligence for funding is minor compared to purchase, so be deal ready from day one;

6. Create distance with the acquiring company and avoid emotional involvement.

The Irish tech sector generates €72bn in export revenue  and employs over 100,000. Of that figure, €1.8bn is produced by over 700 indigenous companies, employing 10,000 people, the conference heard.

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