Belfast Telegraph

Value of Northern Ireland business deals hits £175m in three months

By John Mulgrew

The value of big business deals in Northern Ireland has shot up by almost a third - rising to £175m in the last three months.

That figure was buoyed on by big name deals including Aventas - formerly Quinn Group - which sold off its Polycasa business in a deal worth £90m.

Business deal values increased by 31% in the first quarter of 2015, year-on-year.

Other deals including Londonderry firm 8over8, which was taken over by Cambridge-based Aveva for £27.9m, back in January.

The value of merger and acquisition deals in Northern Ireland grew faster than most other areas in the Great Britain and the Republic.

But the overall number of deals fell by around 20% - dropping to just 17 in the first three months of the year.

Belfast law firm Tughans came out on top for the number of business deals done in the first quarter of the year.

Some of its transactions included acting on behalf of Curlew Capital for the purchase of the former Belfast Met at College Square East, which is being turned into 400-room student accommodation.

And it was also behind the sale of a majority shareholding deal in agri-IT firm FarmWizard.

John George Willis, head of the corporate department at Tughans, said: "Our expectation is that deal numbers in 2015 will outstrip 2014 spurred on by US corporations taking advantage of the strong US dollar to buy Northern Irish businesses with leading market share in their sector."

The report from Experian showed that business acquisitions here made up the bulk of deals in the first three months of this year.

And interest from abroad is also "showing no sign of abating", the report said.

In addition, the number of deals by venture capitalists also outperformed the UK as a whole. The number of deals across the UK as a whole dropped by around a fifth. But Wendy Driver of Experian said a more positive year for the economy as a whole "was reflected by strong M&A activity in the UK, particularly with a significant increase in the number of high-value deals in the pharmaceuticals and telecom sectors".

Belfast Telegraph