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Company deals rebound in 2002 Back  
The acquisition and disposal of companies in Ireland returned to favour last year as management teams and non-Irish buyers sought value in the Irish economy.
The value of acquisitions and disposals of companies in Ireland in 2002 bounced back from the lows of 2001 according to the 15th annual CFM Capital Survey of Mergers, Acquisitions and Disposals.
e3.4 billion was spent acquiring 109 Irish and international companies last year, an increase of 76 per cent on 2001. However, it remained two-thirds less than the e10.4 billion spent by Irish companies acquiring 129 companies in 2000.

Almost e7.5 billion was raised through the disposal of 25 Irish firms in 2002, up 68 per cent from the e4.44 billion spent on 32 transactions the previous year.
The average price achieved for a disposal in 2002 was e299 million compared to the 2001 average of e139 million and even the 2000 average of e245 million, which was a record year for acquisitions.

For the third year in a row, foreign buyers spent more on Irish companies than Irish companies spent on new acquisitions.

‘This would suggest that overseas and non-Irish buyers recognise the value to be had in the Irish economy which, despite a slowing growth rate, is still outperforming many European and international economies,’ said David Chapman, managing director of CFM Capital.

The largest acquisition in 2002 was the e1.05 billion Green Property management buy-out, which dwarfed the e349 million acquisition by CRH of Addtek International, which was the largest of 2001, although the Green Property deal, in turn, was only half the value of Elan Corp’s 2000 purchase of Dura.

‘It is encouraging to see management buy-outs occupy such a prominent place in the survey and that they remain a viable route in terms of unlocking shareholder value,’ Chapman said.

The largest disposal in 2002 was the e3.7 billion sale of Jefferson Smurfit Group to US-based Madison Dearborn Partners. The value of this disposal alone was greater than the value of all acquisitions made by Irish companies during the year. The 2002 disposals survey marks a change over previous years when telecom companies dominated.

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