The Airtricity developed Ardrossan wind farm, located near Troon, North Ayrshire, Scotland |
€1.08bn acquisition of Airtricity accounts for more than one-third of value of Q1 deals
Trade acquisitions by major Irish corporates a significant feature of Q1
Second quarter 2008 likely to see continuation of lower deal values, purchase multiples under ongoing pressure
Despite difficult debt markets, merger and acquisition activity in Ireland remained at a high level during the first quarter of 2008 with 54 separate transactions compared to 34 transactions in the first quarter of 2007, the latest M&A Tracker Survey from private equity company Ion Equity shows.
But the value of deals is falling significantly and disclosed deal value in the first quarter fell by 30% to just under €2.9 billion.
Commenting on the first quarter M&A figures, Ion Equity Director Joe Devine said: “The first quarter performance is by no means a poor one given the difficult environment in debt markets as a result of the sub-prime fall-out and volatile equity markets. The first quarter figures show that M&A activity in Ireland has remained resilient despite the fall in individual deal values.”
Devine said that this pattern is likely to be maintained in the second quarter. “While banks remain cautious, deal activity in the first quarter has shown that funds are available and trade buyers are using strong balance sheets to complete strategic deals. Over the current quarter we expect deal flow to continue albeit with lower average values. Purchase multiples will continue to come under pressure and the large auction deals we have seen in the past will become less prevalent,” he said.
Major Irish corporates were active in the first quarter with CRH alone involved in three major deals in the US, India and China worth a total of €836 million. Other notable trade acquisitions were AIB’s €216 million acquisition of a 49% stake in a Bulgarian bank and Kerry Group’s €165 million acquisition of the Breeo consumer foods group.“The balance has shifted back towards trade buyers and we would expect these types of deals to dominate for the foreseeable future until debt markets recover,” Devine stated, noting significant activity in the first week of April alone, Eureko’s takeover approach to FBD Insurance and Aviva’s acquisition of a 70% stake in health insurer Vivas.