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Key contenders in Finance ‘Deal of the Year 2003’ include the taking private of Jefferson Smurfit and Green Property Back  
In this month’s Finance we announce the nominations for the annual ‘Deal of the Year’ 2003, as nominated and profiled below by Ireland’s leading corporate financiers.
In 2003 size returned to the Irish M&A market with three acquisitions of over €1 billion nominated for this year’s Finance M&A ‘Deal of the Year’ survey. These were MDCP’s €3.7 billion acquisition of Jefferson Smurfit, AIB’s €3.1 billion divestment of US subsidiary AllFirst and Green Property’s €1.1 billion management buy-out. In last year’s survey the only deal valued at over €1 billion was Valentia’s take-over of eircom, which was valued at €3 billion. Last year’s winner, Irish Life & Permanent’s acquisition of TSB Bank, was valued at €430 million.

Overall, the value of acquisitions and disposals increased in 2002 from the lows of 2001. Irish companies spent €3.5 billion acquiring companies; an increase of 76 per cent on the previous year and almost €7.5 billion was raised through the disposal of 25 Irish firms, an increase of 68 per cent on 2001.

2002 was a quiet year on the IPO front, with no companies floating on the Irish Stock Exchange (ISE), and two proposed flotations by Spectel and Cantrell & Cochrane being postponed. As such, there are no IPOs among this year’s deal nominations.

Indeed, in what may be seen as a bad year for the ISE, the trend seen in the boom years of 1998-2000 of floating on the Exchange has been reversed and in 2002 several of the Exchange’s big names including Jefferson Smurfit, Dunlow Ewart and Green Property were taken private. Expectation amongst industry players is that this trend will continue into 2003, as many small to mid-cap plcs consider their options as private companies.

The increase in the number of companies being taken private last year can also be seen in the increasing volume of management buy-outs (MBOs) which took place last year, and which looks set to continue into 2003. Some of the big MBOs of the last year, which are included in this year’s nominations, include Green Property, Conduit, and Futura. Further MBOs are set to take place in 2003 with Alphyra, the electronic transactions group and Riverdeep, the software company, currently the subjects of MBO offers.

This year’s survey is somewhat different to last year’s in that this year, Ireland’s top plcs will vote on the deals and their profiles as outlined below and the winner will be announced in next month’s Finance.

Each nominated deal is profiled by one, or two of the following: Michael Neary, director of Grant Thornton Corporate Finance; Bobby O’Brien, director in Goodbody Corporate Finance; Leo Casey, associate director at IBI Corporate Finance; Pat Landy, managing director of Merrion Corporate Finance; Ivan Murphy, director at Davy Corporate Finance; Ronan McGovern, associate director of AIB Corporate Finance; Sinead Munnelly, senior manager in Ernst & Young Corporate Finance; Paul Keenan, lead partner in BDO Simpson Xavier Corporate Finance; Jim Lillis, director of CFM Capital; David Chapman, managing director of CFM Capital; Fergus McLoughlin, director at NCB Corporate Finance; Michael McGrail, head of PwC Corporate Finance; John Dillon, associate director at KPMG Corporate Finance; David Tynan, M&A director at PwC Corporate Finance; Bryan Evans, lead M&A partner at PwC Corporate Finance; and Hugh Cooney, corporate finance partner in BDO Simpson Xavier.

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