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Freehills top on league tables, by count
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Freehills top on league tables, by count

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Freehills has topped the mid-year Australia and New Zealand Bloomberg M&A Legal Advisory League Tables for the fifth year running with a deal count of 45-20 more than its nearest competitor Clayton Utz.

Freehills has topped the mid-year Australia and New Zealand Bloomberg M&A Legal Advisory League Tables for the fifth year running with a deal count of 45- 20 more than its nearest competitor Clayton Utz.

The quarterly tables for the Asia Pacific region also show a growth in the number of M&A deals for the first time in more than a year, signalling positive change for the M&A landscape.

Although the figures are down on the comparative period last year, deal volume is up by 37 per cent compared to the first quarter of 2009.

Despite the difficult financial times that have been navigated over the past 12 months, Freehills corporate M&A partner, Rebecca Maslen-Stannage, said the firm has continued to work on challenging and interesting deals.

“We find that in a difficult market, as circumstances become more challenging and it is harder to do deals, clients really want lawyers who are experienced and can get their deals executed quickly,” she said.

“The fact that we are M&A specialists seems to have worked for us.”

Maslen-Stannage said the encouraging “up-tick” in M&A activity could be attributed to the emergence of cornerstone investors and capital raisings to fund growth and acquisitions rather than to boost balance sheets.

“There have been recent significant domestic capital raisings to accumulate future acquisition war-chests, including Viterra for its acquisition of ABB, and Santos,” she said.

Offshore companies have also demonstrated a willingness to put up significant funding for cornerstone investments in Australian companies, with North America, China and Japan the main players.

“The pricing is appealing at the moment so if a company can get funding it is an ideal opportunity to be buying up other companies.”

Adding to the growth of M&A activity, is the fact that the price expectation gap between buyers and sellers has narrowed.

“Price expectations are now lower and that’s when deals can start to happen,” Maslen-Stannage said.

“This trend commenced with the National Australia Bank’s acquisition of Aviva. We expect steady flow of deals to continue throughout the year, as value buying opportunities continue to present themselves.”

According to the Bloomberg tables, the region accounts for 24 per cent of global M&A activity, with 4,200 deals and $180 billion aggregate deal volume. China, Japan, Australia and Hong Kong accounts for 76 per cent of the region’s aggregate deal volume.

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