Ireland's merger and acquisition market performed steadily last year, despite the euro zone slipping back into recession.

A total of 82 deals - down three on the 2011 figure - with an aggregate value of €17.1 billion were recorded in the annual William Fry M&A review published today.

That amount was up 18% on the €14.5 billion recorded in 2011 - despite there being fewer deals.

The performance was driven by Irish companies increasing their market share worldwide, with outbound activity eclipsing both inbound and domestic activity for the first time, the report says.

There was a trend towards deals of a larger value in 2012, with four deals each valued at more than €250m taking place.

Small and midmarket transactions were not as strong, with only 11 deals in the €5m - €15m range recorded.

Globally, financial services deals were down both in size and number.

However, in Ireland, financial services remained buoyant in 2012, accounting for 18% of overall deal volume and 38% of deal value at €6.4 billion.