The fact that economic indicators were pointing towards a recovery in the latter half of 2013 and that business confidence was increasing steadily throughout the year, strengthened Northern Ireland's position as a competitive place to do business, reflected in the high number of deals last year.
Many deals were driven by overseas investment – especially from the USA, with the favourable US dollar/sterling exchange rate also having a positive impact.
At A&L Goodbody we were struck not only by the volume of deals, but also by the variety – both in terms of value and sector. Whilst we continued to act on a number of major international transactions in 2013, such as the sale of Phoenix Natural Gas and acquisition of Belfast International Airport, we also saw an increase in the level of lower-value deals. We saw more activity emerging in a wider variety of sectors, aside from the high level of transactions in the energy and renewables, healthcare and food/agriculture sectors that we would expect.
We are coming into 2014 with the strongest pipeline of deals for a number of years and it is starting to feel like a normal market again.