Business Irish

Thursday 23 January 2020

Outbound Irish M&A dwarfs all inward deals

Takeover: Peter Jackson, Flutter Entertainment CEO
Takeover: Peter Jackson, Flutter Entertainment CEO
Ellie Donnelly

Ellie Donnelly

The value of overseas takeovers by Irish companies dwarfed inbound transactions last year, boosted by Paddy Power owner Flutter's $10.4bn (€9.36bn) acquisition of Canadian gaming company, The Stars Group, according to new figures from data provider Refinitiv.

The combined value of deals with an Irish target was $13.7bn during 2019, down 84pc from 2018 when the numbers had been dramatically inflated by a notionally Irish tie-up between multinationals Shire and Takeda Pharmaceutical.

Of that, deals involving an Irish target and a foreign buyer totalled $8.9bn.

Despite the decline in deal value, the number of inbound deals involving a foreign buyer was almost 200 and the highest annual tally since Refinitiv began collecting data in the 1970s. Irish domestic deals totalled $4.8bn, a six-year high and mainly made up of mid-market transactions.

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As well as the massive takeover by Flutter Entertainment, Irish plcs Kerry and Kingspan both launched large-scale takeover offers for overseas peers last year, though neither came off.

M&A with any Irish involvement totalled $44.5bn during 2019, well down on the previous year and the overall tallying of all inbound, outbound and domestic transactions was also down on the previous year.

The Refinitiv data is weighted to relatively larger transactions and found Goldman Sachs, with 10 deals under its belt, was the busiest financial advisor, followed by Barclays with seven.

The Ireland country manager for Refinitiv, Bebhinn Dunne, said deal flow had held up even in the face of Brexit and the darkening international trade outlook.

"Despite global geopolitical concerns, including Brexit on the doorstep, 2019 has been very positive for M&A in Ireland even with a fall in overall activity.

"The underlying fundamentals of the Irish economy remain strong giving confidence for companies to continue pursuing deal-making domestically, as well as overseas, which bodes well for 2020," she said.

Global deal-making slipped to a two-year low as 2019 marked the sixth consecutive year to surpass $3trillion in M&A, but there were more deals in the giant $10bn plus class.

Irish Independent

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