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Advisers score in buoyant year for M&A Back  
Corporate finance and legal advisers benefited from an upsurge in mergers & acquisitions (M&A) activity in 2006, boosted by an increase in property related deals and greater participation by private equity firms in the Irish market.
The past year has been exceptionally strong for corporate finance advisers, as strong deal levels, buoyed by property deals and the involvement of private equity, boosted deal levels in the Irish market.

Financial advisers
JP Morgan jumped from 11th position in 2005 to become Ireland's top corporate finance adviser in 2006, advising on four deals worth E10.1 billion, according to statistics compiled by Merger-Market. JP Morgan's top deals during the year included the E7.2 billion acquisition of the Experian Group by Great Universal Stores.

Two other advisers on this deal, Merrill Lynch and UBS take the number two and three spots respectively, with Irish stockbroking firm Davy and Goodbody bringing up the rear.
Some of Davy's deals during the year included the E3.7 billion purchase of eircom by Babcock & Brown, and the E350 million management buy-out of Davy itself.
Goodbody moves up from seventh place in 2005 to fifth in 2006, having advised on deals valued at E4.3 billion during the last year.

When looked at by deal volume, Irish firms dominate the top ten, and IBI Corporate Finance comes out on top, having advised on 19 deals valued at over E1 billion in 2006, including Bank of Ireland's divestment of stockbroking arm Davy, and the E390 million disposal of BWG Holdings Ltd to Triode Acquisitions UK Ltd.

Davy follows closely behind its former stable mate IBI, with 16 deals valued at ?5.7 billion. In third is AIB Corporate Finance with 12 deals, followed by NCB with 10 and PricewaterhouseCoopers with 9.

Legal advisers
Arthur Cox advised on the mergers and acquisition (M&A) deals with the greatest value in 2006, having been involved in 38 Irish deals with a combined value of E12.4 billion. UK firms Linklaters and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer take second and third respectively, while A&L Goodbody and Matheson Ormbsy Prentice are in fourth and fifth. When it comes to deal volume, Arthur Cox also comes out on top, with Matheson Ormbsy Prentice in second with 34 deals valued at E7.6 billion, and A&l Goobody in third with 32 deals.

Some of the high profile deals transacted during the year include Ryanair's acquisition of a 25 per cent stake in Aer Lingus and its public bid for the remaining shares in Aer Lingus, which had quickly followed the E1.2 billion privatisation of Aer Lingus; the E2.36 billion sale of eircom to Babcock and Brown Capital, the largest M&A deal to date in 2006; and private equity firm Doughty Hanson's E265 million acquisition of CanWest's shares in TV3.

The largest ever acquisition by an Irish company was transacted during the year when newly-formed Irish public limited company HM Rivergroup PLC acquired US publisher Houghton Mifflin and Riverdeep, valuing the combined group in excess of US$4.5 billion.
Commenting on deal flow in the Irish market in 2006, John Given, head of M&A at A&L Goodbody said, 'The upsurge in activity in 2006 is a reflection of the current positive view of Irish economic growth, which we expect to carry through to 2007. This year alone, we saw an increase in property related deals and greater participation by private equity firms in the Irish market with renewed confidence amongst trade buyers, reflecting the worldwide trend which is at record levels'.

Looking forward to 2007, Given maintains that the M&A pipeline looks very strong, and he expects a particular focus on construction, property and energy sectors next year, with a further impetus from a continued drive in infrastructure.
IBI's Brennan concurs with Given saying, 'The outlook for 2007 is very positive with a significant pipeline of transactions already in place'.

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