Irish M&A activity reaches record levels

60 M&A deals worth almost $3.3bn were made in the first four months of 2022.

Irish companies continued to attract near-record levels of M&A activity in the first four months of 2022, despite the challenging geopolitical and macro-economic global backdrop, according to data from EY Ireland.

Sixty Irish M&A deals with a combined total of almost $3.3bn in value were made in the first four months of 2022. Inbound investment from abroad accounted for the majority of this activity, representing 60% of the deal count and 70% of the deal value, according to EY. 

“There is no doubt that global investors are eyeing up Irish companies very closely as part of their core M&A strategic priorities”

It is perhaps no surprise then that many of Ireland’s top M&A deals of the first quarter of 2022 had an international dimension, and included names such as Global Shares, Wayflyer and Mainstream Renewable Power.

Deal volume

Global Shares, a leading global fintech company that manages stock plans for companies and was purchased by JP Morgan for $730 m, was the standout M&A deal in terms of value over the period.

Also notable was the announcement that Partners Group, a global private markets firm, will become new partner and majority shareholder of IT services company, Version One. This deal is valued at USD 867 million and due to complete by mid-2022.  

In terms of standout industries, the Technology, Media, and Telecom (TMT) sector topped investor appetite, with the sector attracting investments in companies such as Flipdish, Pradium, Tetra, together with Wayflyer and Global Shares as mentioned.

The bumper M&A activity emanating from the Irish technology sector represented massive 63%of the total Irish M&A deal value, and 27%of the deal volume in the first four months of 2022. 

“There is no doubt that global investors are eyeing up Irish companies very closely as part of their core M&A strategic priorities,” said Grit Young, EY Ireland Valuations Partner.

“The attractiveness of Irish companies to international investors helps explain why Ireland continues to be one of the most sought after destinations for M&A activity in the wider EMEA region. But most of all, it comes down to the extraordinary talent, innovation, and robust business models built up by Irish companies over the years that have put Ireland centre stage on the M&A world map,” according to Grit Young, EY Ireland Valuations Partner. 

Broadly speaking, the trends that can be seen in Ireland during the first four months of 2022 are relatively similar to those seen globally. In comparison to January – April 2021, Irish M&A deal volume in the first four months of this year softened by 24%, versus a 42%decline for the UK. For the wider EMEA region, M&A deal volume fell 23 per cent. However, over the previous two years, the volume of Irish M&A activity has increased by 21% for the first four months of the year. 

Other notable industries that have witnessed unique M&A activity in 2022 so far, include the Power & Utilities, and Life Sciences sectors. Powers & Utilities stood out as a result of a one-off investment by Mitsui in Mainstream Renewable Power Ltd for USD 632 million, which left the sector representing 27%of the total deal value for the first four months of 2022.

Meanwhile, the life sciences sector has remained a growing area of interest for investors when compared with the previous year. The sector has witnessed five deals from January – April 2022, compared to one deal for both 2019 and 2020 during the same period. 

“The second half of this year should hold bountiful opportunities for Irish companies seeking opportunities in the M&A space,” Young added.

“That said, these opportunities must be weighed against a more uncertain macro-economic backdrop resulting from inflation, the resurfacing of trade tensions, and geopolitical risks emanating from the war in Ukraine. These challenges might put the brakes on certain sectoral M&A activities. Ultimately, though Irish companies will likely remain firmly in the spotlight and top of the agenda for global M&A investors in the second half of the year.”

John Kennedy
Award-winning editor John Kennedy is one of Ireland's most experienced business and technology journalists.