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M&A deals treble in first quarter Back  
Property and private company deals are set to drive growth in the Irish mergers and acquisitions market in 2007.
In the first quarter of 2007, the value of corporate finance deals more than trebled to €4.2 billion, compared to the first quarter of 2006 according to a new survey. Property-related transactions involving Quinlan Private, Howard Holdings, Boundary Capital, Superquinn and Jim Mansfield accounted for almost half the value of first quarter deals.

The survey, which was conducted by Ion Equity, shows that Irish companies were involved in transactions worth almost €4.2 billion in the first three months of 2007 compared to less than €1.2 billion in the first quarter of 2006.

Ion Equity director Joe Devine said, 'While the first quarter 2007 figures were distorted to some degree by Quinlan Private's €1.6 billion acquisition of a portfolio of Marriott hotels, the figures show that M&A activity remains strong and is likely to remain strong over the remainder of the year'.

He added that the current situation at Irish Continental Group, Independent News & Media's wish to increase its presence in the Australian market and Riverdeep's reported interest in a €3 billion bid for Reed Elsevier's education publishing business give an indication of the level of activity involving public companies.

Bank of Ireland predicts that privately owned medium sized companies across a range of sectors will drive growth in the M&A market.

Pat Gaynor, managing director of Bank of Ireland Corporate Banking, said, 'Availability of equity, relatively low funding costs, ongoing economic growth, high employment levels, strong consumer demand and significant market confidence has created an unprecedented deal flow and activity in the Irish M&A market mainly in the private sector'.

'Interestingly, what has also emerged is that the Irish market is naturally developing from 'teenage years' to 'fully-developed adulthood'. This development and maturity in the market was identified by the ratio changes in the small number of large deals dominating the market to an increasingly larger number of smaller deals. We believe that this pattern of a maturing market will become more and more pronounced as small and medium-sized companies become more active in the M&A space,' he added.

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