Asia Pacific region least impacted by coronavirus-fuelled global M&A slowdown

Indian law firms dominate top echelons of Mergermarket's APAC M&A advisory league tables
Stock Market Exchange on a skyscraper in Hong Kong background

Hong Kong and mainland China are returning to growth i viewfinder; Shutterstock

M&A activity in the Asia Pacific region fell only slightly in the first half of the year, emerging relatively unscathed from the near-freeze in global dealmaking amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Deal values in APAC, excluding Japan, declined 17% to $226bn, the lowest since 2013, but a smaller decline than other regions, according to Mergermarket’s 1H20 M&A report

By contrast, deal values in Europe and the US plunged 31% and 72% respectively. In Japan, deal values in the first six months of the year actually increased compared to the same period in 2019, buoyed by a bumper first quarter. Deal values climbed to almost $24bn, up from $19bn a year ago. 

Riccardo Ghia, research editor for APAC at Mergermarket, said: “Signs of recovery in dealmaking [in APAC] began to emerge in the second quarter following the end of the first wave of Covid-19 pandemic, despite global economic headwinds and growing geopolitical uncertainties.

"First, central banks’ expansive monetary policies will lead to lower interest rates that could spur financial transactions despite governments’ efforts to redirect liquidity toward the real economy. In addition, mainland China and Hong Kong are returning to economic growth, which might improve investors’ sentiment despite a resurgence of Covid-19 cases in Beijing.”

Given the more benign regional impact, nine out of 10 law firms in Mergermarket’s APAC (ex Japan) league table by deal value saw the value of the deals they advised on increase.

Indian firm AZB & Partners surged 12 places to first, working on $22bn of deals — 46% higher than in 2019. Indian rival Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co edged up one place to second, advising on $21bn-worth of transactions, broadly in line with its 2019 levels. Weil Gotshal & Manges ranked third, up from 66th spot in 2019. It worked on $20bn of deals, compared to just $3bn a year earlier.

India’s Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas jumped 10 places to top the APAC league table by deal count, advising on 51 deals, up from 30 in 2019. Local peers AZB & Partners and Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co retained second and third places respectively, working on 46 and 39 deals — 17 and 22 short of last year’s first half totals.

In Japan, Mori Hamada & Matsumoto topped the Mergermarket league table by deal value, advising on $16m-worth of transactions — 65% higher than last year. Nishimura & Asahi topped the table by deal count, working on 50 transactions —nine more than the first six months of 2019.

Mergermarket: Asia Pacific (excl Japan) 1H 2020 Deals by Value
1H20 1H19 Firm Value ($bn) Deals
1 13 AZB & Partners 21.7 46
2 3 Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas 21 39
3 66 Weil Gotshal & Manges 20 9
4 71 Davis Polk & Wardwell 19.8 17
5 12 Herbert Smith Freehills 16.5 30
6 36 Fangda Partners 16.5 31
7 14 Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas 15.9 51
8 41 Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom 15 12
9 10 Kirkland & Ellis 14.9 15
10 30 Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer 14.7 12

Mergermarket: Asia Pacific (excl Japan) 1H 2020 Deals by Volume
1H20 1H19 Firm Value ($bn) Deals
1 11 Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas  15.9 51
2 2 AZB & Partners 21.8 46
3 3 Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co 21 39
4 4 Khaitan & Co 2 34
5 1 King & Wood Mallesons 8 32
6 5 Kim & Chang 5.8 32
7 12 Fangda Partners 16.5 31
8 8 Herbert Smith Freehills 16.5 30
9 17 MinterEllison 0.9 23
10 10 DLA Piper 4.4 22


Further reading on deals

Latin America Covid-19 woes see region's M&A activity plunge to lowest on record — Deal value in first six months of the year falls below previous record low in 2003, Mergermarket report shows

Freshfields and DLA Piper top European H1 M&A tables for value and volume as deal activity plunges — Allen & Overy and Herbert Smith Freehills jump up rankings as Slaughter and May drops out of top 20

Covid-19 sees US M&A activity suffer bigger decline than during financial crisis — Wachtell Lipton and Kirkland & Ellis cling on to top league table positions despite slowdown

Global M&A slowest since financial crisis as deal appetite slumps amid Covid-19 pandemic — Latham & Watkins replaces Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz at top of global M&A advisory league table for first half of 2020

Q1 global M&A suffers sharp fall as Covid-19 bites

Wachtell tops US M&A advisory rankings as Covid-19 pandemic halves Q1 dealmaking

Political uncertainty weighs on Latin America M&A activity in first quarter

Asia Pacific M&A slowdown fails to derail region's top deal advisers

Wachtell, Sullivan and Kirkland top global M&A ranking after a near-record year for mega deals

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