fivehundred magazine > Practice area spotlight: M&A > Taking advantage of uncertain times

Taking advantage of uncertain times

Ireland’s M&A market has remained buoyant, despite Brexit and international politics stateside, explains Arthur Cox’s Geoff Moore, Christopher McLaughlin and Brian Doherty

Please give us an overview of the current legal market in Ireland and how any recent developments have impacted your practice?

M&A activity in Ireland has been strong and both domestic and international buyers have been active with a number of inbound and outbound strategic acquisitions being made, including by Allergan, CRH, Eir, and Mallinckrodt.
Mid-market deals across a range of sectors have accounted for the large majority of deals. As Ireland continues to be an attractive destination for foreign buyers, both private equity and trade buyers have been very active.


What significant trends exist in the M&A market presently? Are you seeing these just domestically or internationally as well?

There has been an increase in partial rather than full acquisitions in the Irish market recently, which has largely been driven by private equity firms looking to enter the Irish market in partnership with established businesses in a wide variety of sectors.

This trend also reflects the international market with the increased availability of funding. Buyers have taken a more proactive approach despite global market uncertainty. Warranty and indemnity insurance has become more prevalent, particularly in private transactions where the private equity seller is not willing to provide warranty protection to the buyer or where the sellers are


What are the three biggest challenges to practising M&A in Ireland at the moment?

Economic uncertainty with Brexit and international political developments, particularly in the United States, has made the market more difficult to predict,
albeit M&A activity has remained strong.

The market has recently been a competitive, sellers’ market, which has made deals more challenging for buyers seeking to buy assets on favourable terms.

While share purchase structures continue to be most common for M&A deals,
business and asset sales have required more careful restructuring since the rate of stamp duty increased from 2% to 6% in October 2017.


How does M&A fit into the firm as a whole? Is it easy to collaborate with
other teams?

Our M&A department is the largest team in the firm and M&A deals play a large part in bringing our network of practice areas together. As transactions have become increasingly complex over the years with various areas of legal expertise required, we have maintained excellent relationships with our specialist teams and have found that seamless collaboration among our specialists in conducting due diligence, communicating with clients, and negotiating deal documentation is crucial.


What advice would you give to the next generation of M&A lawyers?

Gain an understanding of your client’s business and learn about the strategy behind a proposed deal. Keep up to date with developments in the M&A market and current affairs, both domestically and internationally. Keep track of the development of technology and the potential for the use of artificial intelligence and the role it might play in the future of M&A in key areas, such as due diligence and the preparation of transaction documentation.


What are your predictions for M&A in Ireland over the next five years?

For such time as there is uncertainty surrounding Brexit and the position on
US/EU trade, the M&A outlook is difficult to predict. Brexit may encourage dealmakers to seek targets in Ireland and increased migration of capital from the UK to Ireland is likely. Despite this uncertainty, the Irish economy continues to expand at one of the fastest rates in Europe and we expect that this will encourage domestic and foreign businesses to continue to expand by way of acquisition over the next five years.