The look of the Irish

The Irish technology sector has been in freefall for some time and the country's foreign direct investment is threatened by the economic woes of the US. Other than the Jefferson Smurfit deal, there have been few big M&A transactions this year. But Dublin lawyers remain confident about the economic climate. Some speak of a shift towards the mid-market, but few report a falloff in work.
The 2002 Thomson Financial table for Irish M&A by volume is a reflection of the domestic market. The table is dominated by the Smurfit buyout. The 2001 figures on deals by volume are similarly dominated by the sale of eircom. Ireland's top five firms – A&L Goodbody, Arthur Cox, Matheson Ormsby Prentice (MOP), McCann FitzGerald and William Fry – all feature on the 2001 table, with MOP top. Four of the five, along with Mason Hayes & Curran, also feature in the 2002 figures.
In 2001, MOP worked on nine deals, valued at around $3bn (£1.96bn) and was one of several firms involved in the eircom deal. That aside, MOP's position is impressive for a firm that was unknown in corporate circles just 10 years ago. Corporate partner Andrew Doyle said: “We've come a long way in the last five years. We've laterally hired a number of corporate lawyers in the last decade and have invested significantly in young lawyers over the last 10 years.”
However, MOP did not have the top role on Valentia's e3bn (£1.92bn) successful public-to-private bid for eircom. A&L Goodbody had the largest role, advising Valentia alongside Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. City firm Macfarlanes, which also appears high up the table, advised Soros Private Equity Partners, a key member of the Valentia consortium. Eircom was advised by its long-term adviser Arthur Cox and unsuccessful bidder eIsland by William Fry.
In 2002, Madison Dearborn Partners' acquisition of the Jefferson Smurfit Group dominates the Thomson M&A volume tables. All the firms that have racked up a high deal value were involved. William Fry acted for long-term client Smurfit and Arthur Cox for Madison. William Fry has had a good run this year, being involved with Ireland's other e1bn-plus deal, the Rodinheight take-private of Green Property. As with Smurfit, Arthur Cox was on the other side.
The Thomson tables for deals ranked by value show all cross-border deals with an Irish component, however small. While not a good guide to the Irish domestic market, the tables demonstrate which international firms are particularly active. As with the main European league tables, Linklaters heads the pack for both 2001 and the first six months of 2002. It is also notable that William Fry and Arthur Cox have made it into the league table on the back of the Smurfit deal.
The Irish initial public offering market has been quiet in 2002, with Spectl and Cantrell & Cochrane, the only two planned floats, both pulled. The most high-profile deals to go through have been public-to-private or private-to-private transactions. William Fry chairman Houghton Fry said: “We've seen a fair number of private-to-privates. It's a reaction to the market, because a lot of companies don't believe their shares are properly valued.” He claims that William Fry has been even busier this year than last. MOP's Doyle, however, said Smurfit is the exception and that “private equity has slowed more quickly than M&A, save for the odd large buyout”.
McCann FitzGerald managing partner Ronan Moloney told The Lawyer: “There haven't been that many big deals, certainly much less than before, but we've been busy enough.” Doyle concurred, saying: “I think what's happened is that there's been a gradual slowing, but there's still lots of mid-market deals around.”
All eyes are now on the US economy, with which the Irish economy is very closely tied. Should the US double-dip and go into recession this quarter, corporate lawyers may have to rethink their strategies. Doyle told The Lawyer: “Our economic forecast is not optimistic. But one of the significant opportunities for us is the fact that we have a strong tax practice, which will benefit enormously from Enron. People will be much more disposed to use lawyers where they might previously have used accountants.” If so, the Enron collapse will have a silver lining for Irish lawyers.

Announced deals for 2001 ranked by volume
Rank Legal adviser No of deals Market share (%) Ranking value inc net debt of target ($m/£m)
1 Matheson Ormsby Prenctice 9 7.6 3,079.7/2,011.4
2 A&L Goodbody 5 4.2 3,065.8/2,002.3
3 Eversheds 4 3.4 7.5/4.9
4= Macfarlanes 2 1.7 2,735.5/1,786.6
4= William Fry 2 1.7 440.5/287.7
4= Arthur Cox 2 1.7 2,760.9/1,803.1
4= Clifford Chance 2 1.7 155.1/101.3
4= Allen & Overy 2 1.7 587.6/383.8
9= Ashurst Morris Crisp 1 0.9 2,722.1/1,777.8
9= SJ Berwin 1 0.9 41.6/27.2
9= Dewey Ballantine 1 0.9 155.1/101.3
9= Linklaters 1 0.9 155.1/101.3
9= Slaughter and May 1 0.9 2.9/1.9
9= AC Forde & Co 1 0.9 38.8/25.3
9= Pinsent Curtis Biddle 1 0.9 38.8/25.3
9= O'Donnell Sweeney 1 0.9 2,722.1/1,777.8
9= Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer 1 0.9 2722.1/1,777.8
9= Denton Wilde Sapte 1 0.9 2.9/1.9
9= Dundas & Wilson 1 0.9 52.5/34.3
9= Herbert Smith/Gleiss Lutz/Stibbe 1 0.9 110.6/72.2
 
Source: Thomson Financial

Announced deals for 2001 ranked by value
Rank Legal adviser Ranking value inc net debt of target ($bn/£bn) Market share (%) No of deals
1 Linklaters 155.32/101.44 28.8 259
2 Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer 131.35/85.78 24.3 141
3 Shearman & Sterling 108.2/70.67 20.1 40
4 Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton 87.65/57.24 16.2 56
5 Herbert Smith/Gleiss Lutz/Stibbe 75.5/49.31 14 92
6 Clifford Chance 75.25/49.15 14 192
7 Sullivan & Cromwell 73.08/47.73 13.5 26
8 Slaughter and May 67.84/44.31 12.6 95
9 Hengeler Mueller 51.54/33.66 9.6 49
10 Allen & Overy 49.85/32.56 9.2 152
11 Jones Day Reavis & Pogue 31.62/20.65 5.9 103
12 Lovells 30.94/20.21 5.7 78
13 Blake Dawson Waldron 27.29/17.82 5.1 5
14 Ashurst Morris Crisp 22.74/14.85 4.2 104
15 Weil Gotshal & Manges 21.45/14.01 4 34
16 Allens Arthur Robinson Group 21.36/13.95 4 2
17 Bredin Prat & Associés 20.96/13.69 3.9 30
18 Baker Botts 20.69/13.51 3.8 4
19 Norton Rose 19.52/12.75 3.6 63
20 White & Case 18.99/12.4 3.5 50
 
Source: Thomson Financial

Announced deals up to 30 June 2002 ranked by volume
Rank Legal adviser No of deals Market share (%) Ranking value inc net debt of target ($m/£m)
1 A&L Goodbody 2 4.3 5.1/3.3
2= Ashurst Morris Crisp 1 2.1 4,389.5/2,866.8
2= Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer 1 2.1 0
2= William Fry 1 2.1 4,389.5/2,866.8
2= Brobeck Hale and Dorr International 1 2.1 0
2= Dundas & Wilson 1 2.1 8/5.2
2= Arthur Cox 1 2.1 4,389.5/2,866.8
2= Mason Hayes & Curran 1 2.1 2.5/1.6
2= Morrison & Foerster 1 2.1 0
2= Baker & McKenzie 1 2.1 0
2= Kirkland & Ellis 1 2.1 4,389.5/2,866.8
2= Hogan & Hartson 1 2.1 0
2= McCann FitzGerald 1 2.1 8/5.2
2= Shearman & Sterling 1 2.1 4,389.5/2,866.8
2= Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom 1 2.1 4,389.5/2,866.8
2= Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz 1 2.1 4,389.5/2,866.8
2= Allen & Overy 1 2.1 4,389.5/2,866.8
2= Weil Gotshal & Manges 1 2.1 0
2= Eversheds 1 2.1 8/5.2
2= Wallace & Partners 1 2.1 2.5/1.6
 
Source: Thomson Financial

Announced deals up to 30 June 2002 ranked by value
Rank Legal adviser Ranking value inc net debt of target ($bn/£bn) Market share (%) No of deals
1 Linklaters 84.35/55.09 36 131
2 Ashurst Morris Crisp 54.4/35.53 23.2 59
3 Allen & Overy 42.39/27.68 18.1 75
4 Clifford Chance 29.42/19.21 12.6 48
5 Shearman & Sterling 28.87/18.85 12.3 16
6 CMS Hasche Sigle Eschenlohr Peltzer 26.34/17.2 11.2 14
7 Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer 24.57/16.05 10.5 54
8 Hengeler Mueller 21.36/13.95 9.1 18
9 Simmons & Simmons 21.03/13.73 9 17
10 LeBoeuf Lamb Greene & MacRae 20.31/13.26 8.7 3
11 Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom 20/13.06 8.5 15
12 White & Case 18.86/12.32 8 28
13 Sullivan & Cromwell 15.94/10.41 6.8 19
14 Cravath Swaine & Moore 15.84/10.35 6.8 5
15 Herbert Smith/Gleiss Lutz/Stibbe 14.11/9.22 6 31
16 Lovells 13.65/8.91 5.8 35
17 Slaughter and May 12.49/8.16 5.3 25
18 Davis Polk & Wardwell 11.47/7.49 4.9 8
19 Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton 9.91/6.47 4.2 17
20 Weil Gotshal & Manges 8.61/5.62 3.7 30
 
Source: Thomson Financial