With the recent devolvement of corporation tax setting powers, the frequent announcements of new jobs coming into Northern Ireland not to mention the reported increase in the level of activity in the real estate sector, is it safe to assume that this is going to be a good year for businesses in Northern Ireland?

Peter Stafford, our Chairman and corporate partner looks ahead to 2015 and reflects on the level of activity in 2014:

“Deal levels in Northern Ireland in 2014 were up significantly on 2013 and we were once again struck by the variety of deals, both in terms of value and sector. The technology, food and drink and energy sectors continued to perform particularly well and I would expect to see this trend continue in 2015.

“As confidence in global and domestic economies grows and access to finance continues to improve, we anticipate an increased level of M&A activity in 2015, with smaller local deals continuing to drive the agenda amid a portfolio of larger transactions.

“Northern Ireland remains an attractive proposition for international investors and we saw this in 2014 through a number of larger, international transactions such as the acquisition of Bushmills Irish Whiskey by Casa Cuervo and the acquisition of the Slieve Rushen Windfarm by Platina Partners LLP. I would expect international acquirers to continue to play a role in this year’s deal activity - both trade buyers and private equity. Coming out of a downturn I would also anticipate an increase in disposals of non-core assets and this, in turn, raises opportunities for MBO activity.

As a firm we had the privilege of working on the majority of deals to take place in Northern Ireland in 2014 and were delighted to be named as the top legal advisor for M&A in Northern Ireland by both volume and value for the third year in a row. This demonstrates both the strength of our brand and our unique ability to collaborate across our business on both the large, complex deals and the smaller local deals that drove the M&A market in 2014.