Belfast Telegraph

Growing trend to look for acquisitions in corporates

By Alan Taylor

Overall, we have been seeing a fairly good flow of corporate activity in the technology space generally, and telecoms has been part of that.

Last year we saw the sale by UTV Media plc of its UTV Connnect customer base to Vodafone Ireland and Rainbow Communications, and this year we had a cash injection for TotalMobile from Lyceum Capital.

There has also been great success for Kainos in Belfast, which floated on the London Stock Exchange.

There may be some more consolidation within telecoms and technology, where scale is important.

Softening in demand in many other global markets, such as South America and the Far East, could result in consolidation in other sectors.

And more widely speaking, there has been a growing trend for companies in Northern Ireland to look to acquire companies, rather than be acquired themselves.

Of course, we have had a history of US companies acquiring Northern Ireland firms, and that will continue. But we will also see Northern Ireland companies with good products and which are operated by their owners, looking elsewhere - look, for example, at Tayto, a Northern Ireland company which acquired Golden Wonder in 2006.

And, more recently, First Derivatives, a very successful Northern Ireland company in software and consulting, has made a number of acquisitions.

We have also had red meat company Dunbia acquiring businesses in England.

The flow of activity is no longer simply to be acquired by a US or English company.

And the slowdown in global markets is likely to drive more consolidation rather than slow it down - though the deal values will be slightly more realistic.

Alan Taylor is managing partner at law firm Arthur Cox

Belfast Telegraph