CORPORATE deal-making in Northern Ireland slowed down sharply in the first half of the year with the value of transactions down nearly 60% to £307m, data suggests.
Global information company Experian said their latest stats show 20 mergers and acquisitions, venture capital injections and other deals involving Northern Ireland companies between January and June – down from 24 deals worth £703m over the same time in 2012.
However, this year's figures are still up on 2011, when there were 18 deals worth £232m.
Experian said manufacturing was the most active sector and accounted for eight deals, with IT the second busiest with six.
Ian Coulter, managing partner at law firm Tughans and a specialist in mergers, acquisitions and private equity, said the prowess of manufacturing and IT were unsurprising.
"Both sectors are where Northern Ireland is strong – and where there are also multinationals with 'merger and acquisition war chests,' particularly North American tech companies."
But he said the this year's fall – and last year's spike – should not be over-analysed.
He said some of last year's deals involved multi-nationals with only a small Northern Irish element, while large property deals had also skewed values: "The drop-off is therefore not as severe as it may first appear."
Two deals in the first half of 2012 accounted for over £475m. Schrader Electronics was sold for £316.6m to a private group led by Madison Dearborn Partners.
Hermes Real Estate Investment Management paid £159m for the remaining 50% of three shopping centres – including Belfast's CastleCourt – in which it formerly had half-shares.
The sale of Sepha, which makes blister packaging machinery for the pharmaceutical industry, to America's TASI Group is thought to be manufacturing's biggest deal so far this year.
And Dublin-based fund Atlantic Bridge Ventures pumped around $3.7m (£2.5m) in funding into Sophia Search, an IT company at Belfast's Science Park.