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In a complex M&A landscape this year, Asia’s corporate lawyers had to go the extra mile for their clients as they looked to get deals through. This second annual list celebrates 15 of the best dealmakers in the region.

With COVID-19 beginning to recede into the background, M&A activity is poised to pick up throughout Asia.

Factors such as rising financing costs and interest rates, weak equity markets, and inflation have all put pressure on dealmaking, and the war in Ukraine have all battered transactions, which led to deal totals for 2022 coming in at eight-year lows.

The value of deals executed by Asia-Pacific companies between the year 2022 to December 15 totalled $1 trillion, a 41 percent decrease compared to the full-year figure in 2021, according to Refinitiv data. The 2022 figure was the lowest deal value since 2014. Private equity deals, a key factor in driving M&A activity, totalled $139 billion, a 52 percent decline compared to all of 2021.

The sole outlier from this downward trend was India, the only market in Asia to record growth in 2022, with total M&A deal values up 33 percent from 2021, at $164 billion, according to Reuters, which quoted Refinitiv data.

China, the second largest economy in the world and Asia’s biggest M&A market, saw deal value for 2022 fall to a nine-year low of $352.7 billion, down 39 percent year-on-year.

And this downward trend continued into the first quarter of 2023. There was little growth in Q1 2023, with total deal values for the quarter shrinking to the lowest level in more than a decade, as rising interest rates, high inflation, and fears of recessions in many markets, along with uncertainties about the outlook for China’s rebound, all soured the appetite of companies for dealmaking.

M&A volumes across the region in Q1 2023 slumped 48 percent year-on-year to $575.1 billion as of March 30, according to data from Dealogic.

Adding to the troubles is that many factors are still weighing on M&A activities going forward into the year, such as the fact that many countries have tightened regulations on foreign investments, especially for sensitive industries such as energy, technology, and communications. For instance, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS) has broadened its review of foreign investments to include newly formulated national security factors.

However, despite the headwinds, bankers expect the sector to grow in 2023.

Deal appetite for high-quality assets globally will continue in 2023 despite fears of a possible recession, according to the co-head of Asia mergers and acquisitions at UBS Group AG. A positive sign is that economies in the region have shown signs of growth. For example, China’s Q1 GDP grew 4.5 percent year-on-year, which beat market expectations.

Analysts expect a considerable uptick in transactional activity into the latter half of the year and a substantial increase in cross-border deals over the next couple of years and beyond.

 

THE LIST

ALB TOP 15 M&A LAWYERS 2023

SANDY FOO
Rajah & Tann

FRANSISCA
Makes & Partners

TIM GARDNER
Weil, Gotshal & Manges

IAN C. HO
Simpson Thacher & Bartlett

RAVI KUMAR
IndusLaw

YOUNG MIN LEE
Kim & Chang

RAGHUBIR MENON
Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co

HO JOON MOON
Lee & Ko

LUU TIEN NGOC
Vision & Associates

PRAMUDYA A. OKTAVINANDA
UMBRA – Strategic Legal Solutions

JONATHAN OLIER
White & Case

ASHWATH RAU
AZB & Partners

CHARUNUN SATHITSUKSOMBOON
Tilleke & Gibbins

JEREMY R.L. WHITE
Morrison & Foerster

TONG YU
Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison

 

JURISDICTION

SUBMISSIONS

WINNERS

Hong Kong

7

2

India

11

3

Indonesia

5

2

Japan

7

2

Singapore

3

2

South Korea

6

2

Thailand

1

1

Vietnam

2

1

Total

42

15

 

METHODOLOGY

Lawyers were evaluated on the following criteria:

1.       Significant M&A deals throughout candidate’s career

2.       Significant M&A deals handled in the last 18 months

3.       Key clients

4.       New clients

5.       Significant accolades or recognition

6.       Client recommendations and comments

7.       Comments from managing partner or colleague

 

TO CONTACT EDITORIAL TEAM, PLEASE EMAIL ALBEDITOR@THOMSONREUTERS.COM

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