Ken Casey of Hayes Solicitors sees echoes of the fortunes of Irish rugby in 2018 in his own team’s performance over the year.
“The first quarter was full of hope, we got some early points on the board and then, after a couple of really interesting wins for us, the second half of the year has been just tremendous,” says Ken.
Having joined Hayes as partner and head of corporate in January, Casey is in a good position to judge team performance in a year when the company added new talent as he set out to build up an already strong transaction services offering.
“The focus has been on building out the M&A team to develop and release its potential – a lot of work we were doing in those first two quarters was about strengthening and developing relationships,” he said. “This really started to tell for us over the summer and as the second half of the year progressed, the combination of a very strong domestic economy and increased international investment, as people looked past Brexit and tariffs and just got on with business, meant we could see strong dividends from the work that everybody has put in.”
A lot of the chatter in the corporate transactions sphere has been about international interest in Ireland from Britain and the US in particular. But Casey says the domestic market has been at its strongest in years.
“It’s very clear that Irish businesses have shown significant ambition,” he said. “They have continued to grow and look for opportunities. It’s a very strong sign of the continued health and potential of the Irish economy.”
On Brexit, Casey says it will pay to take the long-term, pragmatic and nuanced view of a potentially seismic event that will bring opportunities as well as risks.
“Brexit matters, of course it does. But we are seeing continuing positivity and confidence in our domestic economy,” he said. “Looking at the funding availability that is here, both from domestic suppliers of debt and equity, but also from a growing range of international sources, we have the environment for continued growth.”
At Hayes, Casey says they have built a team that includes “very experienced and expert practitioners who understand how business works and are networked into a very broad range of sectors”.
“We work for a range of blue-chip Irish businesses and international businesses. We deliver value for our clients, we are very business-focused, we work in partnership with our clients, we set out to understand their mindsets and their goals and then deliver what they are seeking,” he said. “Whether it is risk-management or helping them realise opportunity from buy-out positions, we deliver on the promises we make.”
The corporate team at Hayes have around eight major deals they are working to close out before the end of the year.
“A couple of them look like they are going to push into the new year; they are a mixture of Irish and international buyers, there are as many Irish buyers in the mix, otherwise it’s primarily US and UK,” said Casey.
The strong sectors for Hayes in 2018 have been tech (particularly fintech), food, professional services and pharma, and if Casey had to pick one additional sector to watch in 2019 it would be telecoms and related services.
“We are in a very busy time of the year and it’s sometimes hard to look forward in the heat of battle, but telecom and communications services have not been as present as they should perhaps be in 2018, while the tech and food sectors will continue to be very busy,” he said.
On funding, Casey reckons it’s important to be aware of the growing diversity of debt and equity funding available, domestically, saying: “There is great opportunity for business to get funding at a decent price. We have seen the banks come back in to do equity funding again, which is a really interesting development.”
Casey said that Hayes is already looking to bolster its team for 2019 and is planning to attract more talent to add to the two significant hires due to start in January.
“The firm is continuing to grow dynamically – we are actively looking for talent,” he said.
It’s been a busy year ‘on the pitch’ for the Hayes corporate team, with new faces coming into the squad – 2019 will see them looking to kick on.
Ken Casey, partner and head of corporate, [email protected]