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Elan’s acquisition of Dura - most admired deal Back  
Apart from deals that your firm had been involved in, which deal of the last 12 months do you most admire and why?
Elan’s $1.8 billion acquisition of Dura stands out. Not only was it a bold move in terms of size, but it also met three strategic criteria: increased salesforce, access to new drugs and new drug delivery systems.’

AIB Corporate Finance
It is always great to see Irish based companies making large international acquisitions which diversify earnings and give increased scale to the operations. Kingspan’s acquisition of Tate in the US is an excellent example of this point. This acquisition will serve to diversify Kingspan’s earnings away from the UK and Ireland and in one step gives it the number one position in the US raised access floor market. I have no doubt that in time this acquisition will be a landmark in terms of Kingspan’s overall development of the US market.’

BDO Simpson Xavier
Greencore’s acquisition of Hazlewoods was a good aggressive deal for a company that has been perceived to date as being sleepy. I liked the fact that they used a good level of gearing, which will provide a better return to shareholders and can also provide discipline to companies in terms of focusing and cash flow.

CFM Capital
I admire the strategic acquisition undertaken by Elan of Dura and Liposome. Elan is continuing to make quality high value acquisitions, which are building its profile towards a global leader in the pharma sector.

Davy Stockbrokers
On the M&A side the deal that stands out in the last six months is Elan’s purchase of Dura Pharmaceuticals for $1.8 billion. The deal significantly enhances Elan’s US distribution capability at a time when it has a number of new drugs ready to come on stream. This is a large deal by any standards and reflects a continuation of Elans evolution from drug delivery to fully integrated pharmaceutical company.

Ernst & Young
Sale of Esat to BT - hard to beat timing.

Goodbody Stockbrokers
The Stg?350 million acquisition of Hazelwood Foods by Greencore was a watershed deal for the company given the scale of the deal and the potential synergies. The acquisition will give Greencore a market leadership position in five product areas in a number of growing UK market segments. The turnaround strategy represents a significant challenge to management and its implementation should be interesting to follow in the coming months.

ICC Bank
The acquisition of ICC Bank plc by Bank of Scotland has several admirable characteristics. The deal effectively placed a buffer or hurdle for other bidders. Bank of Scotland obtained agreement that unless a bid at least 10 per cent higher was received by the government, then it would conclude the acquisition at the price agreed. The deal was also attractive because, in the event it was actually out-bid, then it recovered the equivalent of an inducement fee of almost ?3 million, which would have contributed towards the costs of it making its bid.

Rather than selecting a particular deal, I would like to highlight the track record of some of the ‘serial acquirers’ like Elan Corporation, CRH and Kerry Group for their ability to identify, negotiate and integrate successfully multiple acquisitions.

NCB Stockbrokers
Elan and CRH continue to impress with a regular flow of acquisitions, but the MBO of Adare stands out. The fact that there was competition from within the management team added an extra ingredient and the deal sets the scene for future ‘take privates’ in the Irish market.

My deal of the year award goes to ICC Bank and the Department of Finance for the successful disposal of ICC to Bank of Scotland. After the unsuccessful efforts to sell ICC in 1999, it was courageous to go back into the market so quickly. In the event, an excellent price was obtained from Bank of Scotland, whose platform for growth in the Irish market has been significantly strengthened by the deal.

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