Shopping with St. Patrick

Contact: Brenon Daly

Starting in the mid-1990s, Ireland joined the New Economy. The island shifted its economy from a centuries-old farming and manufacturing base into a services-oriented and technology-savvy industry. The historic economic isolation of the island gave way to brisk trade with its fellow European Union countries and beyond. Ireland prospered, with some dubbing the country ‘the Celtic tiger’ – a nod to the nickname for the fast-growing countries in Asia during that same period.

Recently, though, Ireland’s boom time has been slowed by the global recession. However, we would point out that the economic decline in the Emerald Isle has been nowhere near as sharp as in another European island nation that dramatically reinvented itself, Iceland. Of course, it helps to think of Iceland not as a country but as a hedge fund, as financial journalist Michael Lewis wrote recently.

What’s interesting to note on this St. Patrick’s Day is how Ireland’s flourishing tech sector has turned into a shopping center for other companies. Since St. Patrick’s Day last year, there has been more than twice the number of Irish tech companies sold than the number of acquisitions made by Irish tech companies. The gulf in spending by Irish companies compared to spending for Irish companies is even more pronounced. Just something to chew over today, in between bites of corned beef and cabbage.

Emerald Isle M&A

Period Acquisitions by Irish companies, $ total Acquisitions of Irish companies, $ total
March 17, 2008-March 17, 2009 11, $225m 25, $720m

Source: The 451 M&A KnowledgeBase