Australia fails to dominate Asia Pacific M&A top ten

Only four Australian firms have made it into the top 10 of legal advisers acting on Asia Pacific M&A.

The Allens Arthur Robinson Group has emerged as the leading firm, advising on deals worth $13.1bn (£8.8bn), according to the half-yearly data compiled by Thomson Financial Securities Data.

The rankings are based on completed deals concerning Asia Pacific targets for the first six months of 2000. They include Australia, which saw a 54 per cent growth in deal activity since the same period last year.

But Allens Arthur, Freehill, Mallesons Stephen Jaques and Clayton Utz are the only Australian firms to make an appearance in the top 10.

The remaining firms are UK and US practices, some of which, such as Slaughter and May and Gouldens, do not have overseas offices.

One senior Australian lawyer says the lack of Australian firms is caused by the cost of overseas offices as much as global consolidation.

He says: “It is slightly ironic as [Asia Pacific] is on our back doorstep and not theirs. But the UK and US firms were in Asia early and have built up greater presences than the Australian firms.”

The Allens Group has a strong Asian practice as well as a domestic one. Shanghai partner Seamus Cornelius says this was integral to the firm’s ranking. “One of our key strategic advantages of working in the Asia Pacific region is that we have a network of offices and people on the ground,” he says.

The pattern is also repeated in the data for uncompleted deals, with Slaughter and May, Simmons & Simmons, Herbert Smith, Richards Butler and Allen & Overy taking the top five positions. However, nine out of the top 10 firms are involved in the acquisition of Cable and Wireless HKT by Pacific Century CyberWorks, worth $35bn (£23.5bn).