The total value of Irish merger and acquisition (M&A) deals dropped last year, according to new data from law firm Philip Lee.

Deals reached €72bn in 2022, down from €96bn in 2021.

According to today's data, this fall can be attributed to a drop in the number of so-called 'mega' transactions worth €1bn-plus, which were down from 17 in 2021, to nine last year.

There was also a small decline in the number of 'large' deals, worth between €100m to €1bn.

Despite a drop in the total value of deals, the number of deal carried out increased in 2022.

758 transactions involving Irish companies were carried out, up by around 13% on the 669 deals recorded in 2021.

The report shows that Private Equity (PE) firms in the Irish market continue to drive deal making in Ireland.

In 2022, there were 189 deals funded by PE, up from 142 the previous year.

The data suggests that the number of PE-backed transactions in Ireland has more than doubled over the five years since 2017.

The value of PE-funded deals in Ireland increased from €12bn in 2021 to €19bn in 2022, as well as the rising volume trend.

The technology sector remained the frontrunner for deal activity.

Once again, the report shows that bidder companies from the UK and the USA were most active in terms of deal making with Irish businesses.

Outbound activity remained very strong and well above average over the previous ten years.

"Transactions in the Energy sector, in particular wind and solar, witnessed record levels in a decade, reflective of the global push to the decarbonisation of society," the report states.

The fourth edition of Philip Lee's M&A Insights Guide was co-written by Partner Eoghan Doyle who specialises in corporate and commercial matters, including mergers & acquisitions and Partner Andrew Tzialli, head of the firm’s blockchain and crypto-asset group and joint head of the Philip Lee London office.

The report states that 2022 proved to be a stronger year for deal activity in Ireland than many would have anticipated, and it suggests that 2023 will be another strong year.

"Since the start of the year, we have experienced a healthy appetite for deal activity, domestically and from overseas investors and bidders, and there would appear to be more confidence in the market for yet again, another strong year for M&A activity in Ireland in 2023," the report suggests.