BLAKE DAWSON Waldron has asserted its dominance in the Asia-Pacific mergers and acquisitions (M&A) market, advising on 11 deals worth US$10.76 ($15.18) billion in the March quarter of 2006.
This performance placed the firm at the top of preliminary M&A league tables for the Asia-Pacific (excluding Japan), in terms of the number of deals Blakes worked on. The firm also ranked second based on the value of those deals, just behind Davis Polk & Wardwell, which worked on two deals with a combined value of US$11 ($15.52) billion.
Bill Koeck, partner in Blakes’ M&A practice, said he was “delighted” with the firm’s results, and the group’s deal flow since the period accounted for in the tables had continued to be strong. He said it had been a busy time for the M&A group, and the tables were a “great recognition” of its capabilities.
“In January and February, things were quiet for us generally, the deal flow was quiet, but it’s picked up significantly in March and we expect that to continue.”
The tables, released yesterday by mergermarket, also featured Gilbert + Tobin, which ranked third behind Blakes on the value tables and tenth on volume, having worked on four deals to the value of US$9.57 ($13.51) billion.
Blakes also topped the Australian tables, both on volume and value. Gilbert + Tobin was second on value and third on volume; Freehills Lawyers, meanwhile, was second on volume and third on value.
Freehills worked on nine deals to the value of US$2.21 ($3.11) billion. The firm also ranked in seventh position on the Asia-Pacific table on value, and was the only other Australian firm to make it into the top 10. Allens Arthur Robinson was at ninth position, with five deals at a value of US$887 million ($1.25 billion).
Blakes’ and Gilbert + Tobin’s performance in the value stakes was due largely to their work on Alinta’s bid for the Australian Gas Light Company. According to mergermarket, this was the second largest Asia-Pacific M&A deal in the first quarter, with a value of US$7.4 ($10.42) billion.
As well as the Alinta/AGL transaction, over the last year Blakes also worked on BHP Billiton’s $9.2 billion acquisition of WMC Resources and San Miguel’s $1.9 billion acquisition of National Foods, Ramsay Healthcare’s and 1.4 billion acquisition of Affinity Health, among others.
However, Koeck said the firm was involved in a lot of smaller transactions that are not always mentioned in the context of league tables, but that are “equally important to us and to our clients”. These often included deals in the Asia-Pacific region.
The largest deal in the Asia-Pacific for the quarter was Softbank Corporation’s US$15.3 ($21.56) billion bid for Vodafone KK, acted on by Clifford Chance, Linklaters and Lovells.
In the Australian tables, Mallesons Stephen Jaques ranked eighth on value and volume, acting on three deals at a value of US$1.11 ($1.56) billion. Clayton Utz was ranked in tenth position with four deals valued at US$966 million ($1.36 billion). On volume, Clayton Utz, Allens Arthur Robinson and Minter Ellison ranked fourth, sixth and seventh respectively.
Mergermarket said M&A activity in the Asia-Pacific was up 20 per cent on the fourth quarter of 2005, with deals worth US$65.3 ($92.02) billion announced so far this year. By volume, however, that activity had decreased by 50 per cent compared to the previous quarter.
See The Asian Lawyer this week on page 15.