Crowley Millar reports lively Q1 and Q2 following a record 2021 for M&A

The law firm’s corporate team handles mostly mid-market work, with deal values ranging from €2 million to €50 million

Emma Cafferky, partner and head of corporate section, Crowley Millar Solicitors

Established more than 30 years ago, Crowley Millar Solicitors LLP has a proven track record of excellence, offering a wealth of advice to its clients across the entire spectrum of corporate transactions including mergers, acquisitions, disposals, reorganisations and restructuring. The 40-strong team also has a wealth of knowledge in joint ventures and equity/multi-source financings and investments.

With offices in both Dublin and Limerick, the firm advises clients across the country. Emma Cafferky, partner and head of corporate section, says that business has been brisk for the first half of the year with many companies seeking their services to assist with corporate transactions.

“Q1 and Q2 of 2022 have been consistently busy in terms of corporate transactional work,” she said. “This comes on the back of a very busy 18 months for our corporate team, reflecting the fact that 2021 was a record year for M&A activity in the Irish market.“

The activity on the desks of the Crowley Millar corporate team is mostly focused on the mid-market, with typical total deal values on the desk ranging from €2-3 million up to €45-50 million.

“Consolidation in the insurance broker market in Ireland led to the number of insurance M&A deals being in the high teens we understand for 2021, making it one of the most active sub-sectors for M&A in 2021. Our corporate team completed a number of these transactions on the sell side over the past year,” Cafferky said.

The team at Crowley Millar has also just completed a significant share sale and property transaction in the nursing and care home sector, one of a number of similar nursing home transactions they have advised on in the past couple of years, reflecting the continued consolidation of nursing and care home sectors across Europe.

The corporate section boss says these successes can be attributed to the talent and expertise of the team, which comprises of eight partners, ten solicitors, 14 support staff and a team of trainees.

“We consistently punch above our weight on transactional work, regularly finding ourselves on the opposite side to Ireland’s top ten law firms,” she said. “We combine our significant transactional skills with expertise from our colleagues on our banking, property, employment and dispute resolution teams.

“We have a dedicated China department and India department which specialise in providing services to clients based in China, India and elsewhere who are interested in doing business in Ireland. And for a firm of our size, we are unique in Ireland in having UK, US, China and India dual-qualified lawyers working with us as we serve a wide range of clients in Ireland and internationally through our membership of the Mackrell international group of some 90+ law firms.

“And we are particularly proud to have been appointed as the official legal advisors to Paralympics Ireland until December 2024 and provide legal advice to Paralympics Ireland across several areas.”

Cafferky says she and her colleagues are cautiously optimistic about business for the rest of this year.

“In terms of FDI, Ireland remains high on the league tables of most attractive investment destinations, and we are seeing increased interest from our Chinese and Indian clients investing in and seeking to invest in Ireland, particularly in the pharma and renewable energy sectors,” she said.

“The next 12 months will no doubt bring challenges for business and the economy – perhaps more than the last 12 months, with further impacts being felt from the war in Ukraine, inflation and higher prices, increased energy costs, supply chain pressure, etc.

“But what we are seeing in some current transactions is a slight slowdown rather than stoppage, so we anticipate it may take a slightly longer time to get certain deals over the line for the second half of this year, given the uncertainty that comes with the current geopolitical challenges.

“We also believe it likely that we will see some more distressed activity this year once the real effects of the removal of pandemic economic supports are felt.”

Indeed, the legal expert says, continuing global events mean demand for transactional services remains strong.

“We anticipate the consolidation in the insurance broker sector to continue,” she said. “We are seeing business owners evaluate exit options which they may not have done, due to the uncertainty caused by world events over the last couple of years with the global pandemic, Brexit and the war in Ukraine.

“As a firm, we are optimistic, as out of uncertainty and challenges for us and our clients also come opportunities, so we anticipate and look forward to a very active year ahead for the corporate team and wider firm as we have ambitious growth plans for the future.”

As the pandemic has shown us, it is impossible to predict exactly what lies ahead, but Cafferky says while the current trajectory will remain somewhat consistent for the remainder of the year, good legal advice is always a wise precaution.

“We have not yet seen the anticipated increase in demand for distressed restructuring work, although we expect this may change a little in the second half of 2022 and early 2023, with business failure levels slowly but steadily increasing and the number of SME liquidations having increased by a significant percentage in Q2 2022 vs Q1 2022,” she said.

“Business owners are facing a raft of challenges on the back of a tumultuous couple of years for all industries: rising inflation, interest rates, energy costs, removal of the governmental pandemic supports, etc. Our advice would be for companies to identify the headwinds, be pragmatic, consult with their advisors and take appropriate action.

“The level of non-distressed internal group restructurings remains consistent for us, as many client companies have had the chance to pause somewhat over the last couple of years and plan for the future. Our advice for these clients is always to plan well, execute meticulously and ensure you have the right advisory team in place.”