Business Irish

Sunday 19 November 2017

Ten little indians Ireland's top corporate takeover targets

Aer Lingus: Aer Lingus, which last week reported an operating loss of €53.7m for the first three months of this year (that's 41pc worse than the same time last year), is particularly vulnerable to a takeover.



"There is a group on the Irish stock exchange which are struggling to find their place -- and which needs to find a global home -- Aer Lingus is one of these," said one senior corporate financier. "It doesn't have the critical mass or footprint it needs to compete with others. It has not convinced the stock market that it has a future. A global face is what it needs -- if it can find it."

FBD

Insurance group FBD received a takeover approach from Dutch investment group, Eureko, three years ago. However, this approach never came to anything. Even so, FBD is viewed as a small domestic player that would do well if snapped up by a global insurer or financial firm.

Irish Life

Irish Life & Permanent (IL&P), which owns Permanent TSB and Irish Life Assurance, needs to find €4bn as part of the €24bn recapitalisation of the banks. IL&P expects to raise about €1.7bn of this capital bill by putting Irish Life up for sale.

Grafton

Stockbrokers NCB believe that the DIY merchants Grafton Group is a shoo-in for a buyout.

Around 70 per cent of Grafton's business is in the UK -- and it is from here that a takeover bid is likely to come. "For the larger UK building suppliers to grow through acquisitions, it will be through small-to-medium-sized bolt-on deals, as the remaining market is highly fragmented," said Murray McCarter, an NCB analyst.

"Acquisition of Grafton by one of the three larger UK players would be attractive and lead to the clear number one in the UK and Irish market."

NCB feels construction firm St Gobain is in the strongest position to buy.

Greencore

Many corporate finance experts believe Greencore is vulnerable to a takeover in the wake of its failed bid for Northern Foods.

"Failed takeovers leave firms lacking in confidence," said one seasoned dealmaker.

Kenmare Resources

Mining firm Kenmare Resources could well find itself approached by a suitor due to the rise in commodity prices. So too could Tullow Oil and Irish oil plcs such as Dragon Oil and Petroneft.

AIB

Before the election, FG said it would support the sale of AIB. Doing so would help the Government, which owns the bank, raise much needed money.

Santander, HSBC and BNP are all thought to have kicked the tyres.

C&C

The drinks group C&C would be an attractive takeover proposition for a larger drinks company.

"C&C restructured recently, sold its spirits brands and has paid down most of its debt," said one corporate financier. "It owns well-recognised brands such as Tenants and Bulmers. It has about 50 per cent of global cider sales. A bigger drinks player might be interested in taking over and continue to develop the brands."

A stockbroking analyst believes management in C&C would consider takeover. "If C&C could get taken over at the right price, management would probably go for it as they've very pragmatic."

ICG

As a traditional firm which has paid off a lot of its debt, ICG is viewed as an attractive target, probably by its management.

Datalex

Online travel booking engine Datalex made a loss of $2.1m (€1.4m) last year but it is a niche player, which some believe will follow the path of Norkom and Trintech.

Sunday Indo Business

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