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Deal of the Year: deal values are up in 2006 as Irish corporates look for diversification Back  
The nominations for the FINANCE ‘Deal of the Year’ 2006, which are chosen by a panel of corporate financiers to reflect the best and most innovative deals of the past year. We look at why these deals were nominated, and also the key trends in Ireland’s corporate finance market over the past year, such as an increase in diversification, as corporates look to expand their product offering.
The hotly contested acquisition of Jury’s Doyle Hotel Group plc, by a consortium led by its largest shareholders, the Doyle family, is one of the favourites for this year’s ‘Deal of the Year’ award.
As in previews years, the 2006 ‘Deal of the Year’ award aims to recognise the pursuit of excellence in corporate finance/deal making, and to reward both the corporates and the corporate financiers, who have made these deals happen over the past year. Last year, the long awaited acquisition of the Heiton Group by the Grafton Group was voted the top deal.

In this issue, Ireland’s leading corporate financiers have nominated what they believe are the best deals of the past year, and in the following section they explain why these deals are so important, based on the following criteria:
• The strategic fit of the deal
• The quality of the financing
• The benefit of the acquisition to the acquirer

Most of the largest deals of the past year have been nominated, and the 2003 winner of the ‘Deal of the Year’ award, for its €3.4 billion flotation on the Dublin and London Stock Exchanges, Eircom, also features in this year’s survey. The past year marked Eircom’s return to the mobile telecommunications market, through its €420 million acquisition of Meteor. Eircom now aims to double Meteor’s share of the Irish mobile market within four years.

Two of Ireland’s largest plcs, Kerry Group and CRH, were, as always very active in the corporate finance market in 2005, and three of CRH’s deals are in the Top 20 deals by size for the year. These are the €344 million acquisition of Bizzack Inc (50.00% stake); Mountain Companies, and Southern Minnesota Construction Company Inc; a 26 per cent stake in Corporacion Uniland SA, valued at €300 million; and the €120 million takeover of Saint-Gobain Stradal, from French company Saint-Gobain.

Ireland’s two largest banks also feature on the nomination list, with AIB represented through the joint venture of its life assurance division, Ark Life, with Hibernian Life. Bank of Ireland features several times – for the divestiture of its UK Bristol & West operations for €218 million to Britannia Building Society, and for the acquisition of a 72 per cent stake in US hedge fund manager, Guggenheim Alternative Asset Management.
Another notable deal during the year was Michael Smurfit’s re-acquisition of The K Club in Kildare for €115 million, home of the forthcoming Ryder Cup tournament.

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