12 Apr 2021

Linklaters and Fangda top Q1 Asia Pacific M&A advisory rankings

Magic Circle UK firm leads on value, Fangda for volume as deal activity continues to recover

Planet Earth with detailed relief is covered with a complex luminous network of air routes based on real data. Pacific Ocean. Indonesia.

Anton Balazh;Shutterstock

M&A activity in the Asia Pacific region raced to the fastest start to a year since 2015 as deal-making continued to shrug off the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, adding to the resurgence in transactions seen in the second half of last year.

Asia Pacific deals, excluding Japan, hit $163bn in the opening three months of the year, 28.7% higher than in the opening quarter of 2020 when markets were dealing with the onset of Covid-19, according to Mergermarket’s 1Q21 Global & Regional M&A Report.

Mark Druskoff, data-driven content coordinator at Mergermarket, said a combination of factors had led to the surge in transactions, including an accumulation of delayed deals from last year coming to market, as well as the region’s broader economic recovery and accommodative fiscal and monetary policy support.

Against that backdrop, Linklaters topped the region’s advisory rankings by deal value, working on eight deals worth just under $18bn, up from third spot in the same period last year. Chinese financial services specialist JiaYuan Law Offices took second place, jumping 42 places from last year having worked on two deals worth $16bn – including Xinjiang Tianshan Cement’s $15bn mega-bid for majority stakes in a number of Chinese cement companies owned by an investment group led by China National Building Material.

US firm Latham & Watkins was ranked third by deal value, advising on 12 deals worth $14bn, up four places from the opening quarter of 2020. It was followed by Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, which worked on four deals worth $13bn – propelling it from 75th spot in 1Q20. Indian firm Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas completed the top five, losings its number one ranking from the first three months of last year having advised on 16 deals worth $13bn. 

Meantime, Chinese firm Fangda Partners topped the rankings by deal count, working on 27 deals worth $11bn, lifting it from 12th spot in the first quarter of 2020. Indian firm AZB & Partners moved up one place to second, advising on 24 deals worth $7.5bn – the same number of deals it advised on during the same period last year. South Korean firm Lee & Ko rose 17 places to take third spot, advising on 20 deals worth just over $5bn. Asia-focused firm King & Wood Mallesons was fourth, working on 19 deals worth roughly $7bn, while Cyril Amarchand’s 16 deals saw it slip from first last year to fifth.