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Lawyers deploy for M&A surge

Lawyers deploy for M&A surge

The stars are lining up in favour of M&A lawyers in 2010, with a number of law firms predicting a flurry of inbound Australian M&A activity over the next 12 months. Rebecca…

The stars are lining up in favour of M&A lawyers in 2010, with a number of law firms predicting a flurry of inbound Australian M&A activity over the next 12 months.

Rebecca Maslen-Stannage, an M&A partner at Freehills, told Lawyers Weekly today that she believes top-tier M&A teams will find themselves busy at least until the end of the financial year, saying it is likely such a deal activity uptick may continue unabated until the end of the calendar year

She made the comments following last week's figures from Thomson Reuters on the state of global M&A activity through 2009 which placed Australia as one of the few regions in the world to have seen an increase in such activity.

The figures found that the total Australian M&A activity volume saw a 33.5 per cent increase in 2009 over the previous year - despite that fact that worldwide M&A was down by 28.2 per cent.

Maslen-Stannage - who has just finalised her latest transaction with the Auckland International Airport's purchase of an interest in Cairns and Mackay airports in Queensland - said that she believes the resilience the Australian market has shown the rest of the world will continue to build in the year ahead.

"We already have a lot of foreign interest in our assets, but I think that has only intensified with people seeing that Australia weathered the storm better than others, so people who are looking for a safe jurisdiction in which to invest have found Australia appealing," she said.

The co-head of M&A at Allens Arthur Robinson, Ewen Crouch, is also confident about a surge in M&A activity locally, noting in a statement released by Allens that Australia may play a leadership position in leading the world out of an M&A slump.

"The reality is that 2009 will not be remembered as a vintage M&A year," he said. "However, as the global economy picks up we're expecting to see an increase in M&A work in the energy and resources and industrial sectors in particular."

Crouch added that a general consensus from investment banks that the global M&A market has hit "rock bottom" will feed a global increase in deal activity.

Maslen-Strannage put the strong interest in Australian deals down to our quality assets - particularly in the mining and resources sector - our stable regulatory environment, a sharemarket base that is generally open to transactions and the fact that many corporates now have their "house in order" following the downturn and are keen to explore further moves.

- Angela Priestley

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