Asia Pacific 150: M&A advisers: Work force

Who’s in on all the big deals in the region? Read on…

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer heads the table for M&A deals in the Asia Pacific region (excluding Japan) from January 2012 to date. 

The magic circle player advised on 49 deals with a total value of $64.7bn (£19.3bn), capturing an impressive 11.9 per cent share of the market. When you add Japanese deals to the mix, Freshfieldswas pipped to the top spot by local juggernaut Mori Hamada & Matsumoto by the odd $200m, but the Japanese firm was involved in 137 deals compared with the 65 transactions being monitored by Fleet Street HQ. Click here to access all the information on the Asia Pacific region.

The largest transaction was China Telecom’s $18bn acquisition of the CDMA network assets and associated liabilities of its parent company China Telecommunications Corp, completed in December. 

Freshfields’ Hong Kong-based China chairman Teresa Ko led on the transaction alongside Richard Wang, a partner in the firm’s Beijing office. Sullivan & Cromwell, sixth in the table with $28.5bn worth of deals, also got a piece of the action, with New York-based partner Chun Wei acting alongside Freshfields.

Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) has also performed well in the region over the past 18 months, working on 114 deals worth $47.7bn and capturing an 8.8 per cent share of the market. 

However, with Japan taken into account HSF falls behind Baker & McKenzie and Morrison & Foerster, highlighting that work still needs to be done. The Anglo-Australian outfit is currently working on a $6.8bn oil and gas transaction due to complete next October. The complex deal will see China Resources Power Holdings, a state-owned subsidiary, merge with China Resources Gas, a Wanchair-based provider of natural gas distribution services. Upon completion China Resources will be renamed as China Resources Energy Holdings Ltd and China Resources Gas will be delisted from the Hong Kong stock exchange.

The biggest deal in the financial services sector was a $9.3bn insurance transaction which saw a Thai investor buy a significant stake in a Chinese target. An investor group, all indirectly wholly-owned by Charoen Pokphand Group of Thailand, acquired 15.57 per cent of Ping An Insurance from HSBC Holdings. Freshfields acted for the target with a team that included David Cotton who works across the firm’s Hong Kong and Singapore offices as well as Teresa Ko. For the acquirer Linklaters’ partner Tien-yo Chao headed the team; he was elected a partner in the China practice in 2011, joining from Morrison & Foerster in Hong Kong. His CV also includes heading up his own firm and a stint as a partner at Slaughter and May

Commentators expect to see more big financial services transactions in the region as regulatory changes force divestitures and strategic changes of direction. 

Total M&A activity hit a four-year low in Q1 2013, with total deal values of $64.5bn against $83.3bn during the same period in 2012. But this figure was on the back of a 12 per cent rise in deal volume between the first and second halves of 2012. With big transactions pending in real estate, oil and gas and financial services, there is cause for optimism.

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