2021 has been another extraordinary year for Ireland – while it brought continued uncertainty and challenges for Irish business as we adjusted to living with COVID-19, investment into Ireland and by Irish companies outside Ireland surged.
Reflecting on the last 12 months, it is remarkable to acknowledge how far we have come. With the largest vaccination programme carried out in record time in Ireland, the economy has re-opened and economic activity and M&A activity have reached record levels across many industry sectors. As we approach year-end and the end of a second year of working through the pandemic, there are positive indicators for the year ahead.
The Irish economy has proven its resilience again – exports have continued to strengthen and our domestic economy is showing signs of strong pent up demand. Ireland continues to be an attractive location for foreign direct investment (an attraction enhanced since Brexit and by a thriving domestic economy) and the recent agreement on new international tax rates (which will see the Irish corporation tax rate for trading companies increase to 15%) is a key factor in delivering new opportunities.
Our corporate department has continued to develop and strengthen as we come to the end of our busiest year to date, completing multiple transactions per month ranging from cross border and Irish acquisitions and disposals; joint ventures and corporate re-organisations; working with founders to realise their ambitions and grow their businesses through investment; and advising on capital markets transactions. Aggregate deal values for work completed so far is in excess of €600m, a figure which is likely to increase before year-end.
We have worked closely with and been able to undertake a significant number of these transactions by working with the expert, pragmatic and collaborative support of colleagues in other departments in the firm. This support allows us to deliver significant (often complex) mandates effectively, often across the table from much larger Irish and international law firms and we are grateful for that support from our colleagues in the employment, property, banking and commercial teams.
Two particular highlights from 2021 include:
- advising the shareholders of Technopath, a global leader in the development and manufacture of quality control solutions for clinical laboratories, in its acquisition by LGC Science Ireland, another major player in the clinical diagnostics QC market, for excess €140,000,000; and
- advising on the Irish law aspects of the acquisition by one of the world’s leading video games businesses, Take-Two Interactive Software of another leading mobile games company for up to $378,000,000.
As we look ahead to the remainder of 2021, we have a broad range of transactions all with year-end targets for closing, including advising on:
- the sale of a commercial and heavy goods vehicle rentals business with exposure across Ireland and Northern Ireland, to an international transportation solutions group headquartered in the USA, which, following review by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (“CCPC”) has received approval;
- the acquisition of a number of insurance and/or investment intermediaries by one of the world’s largest privately owned, independent insurance brokerage firms; and
- the proposed investment in our client, an Irish software firm operating in the FinTech sector by a leading Irish private equity firm.
Corporate governance and related advice are important aspects of our practice and during 2021 the pandemic continued to raise further extraordinary challenges for directors of Irish companies. For certain sectors these challenges were more obvious – for example, the impact of restrictions on businesses in the leisure or retail sectors. However, all Irish businesses have faced a range of other challenges – from balancing health and safety obligations with data protection concerns to reviewing internal risk management controls and cybersecurity safeguards to managing supply chain risk as a consequence of Brexit – which have required nimble and measured management by boards and a continuing need to be prepared to respond to crisis. Given the essential oversight role of boards and the fiduciary duties placed on directors of Irish companies, it is essential that directors have the legal support and expertise to enable them to respond quickly and appropriately to such challenges.
Despite the ongoing challenges, we are optimistic that the positive indications during 2021 for Ireland and for the Irish economy will continue and improve in 2022. We are hopeful too for a busy and successful 2022 for our clients and we look forward to supporting them in realising their opportunities and ambitions and dealing with the challenges that lie ahead.Back to Full News
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About the Author
Ken is Head of the Corporate team and has built a practice in acquisitions, disposals, and capital markets transactions across various industry sectors; joint ventures and corporate re-organisations of publicly quoted and private companies; and advises on corporate governance and general corporate law. He has extensive expertise in the financial services, aviation, gaming, technology, media and sports sectors.