The go-to financial advisors for mergers & acquisitions in Asia

26 March 2020 3 min. read

The Asia Pacific mergers & acquisitions landscape slowed last year after recently running hot. That is likely to change again in the year ahead. looks at the go-to advisors in the region last year. 

The full picture of the economic damage is still far from clear, but one ramification of the coronavirus pandemic and international efforts to contain is spread is almost certain; a lot of companies will go out of business. Those which do survive will likely be the quickest to adapt, such as through the deployment of innovative technology or by uncovering new revenue streams. These two factors speak of a mergers & acquisitions landscape which is poised to explode.

So which are the go-to advisors when companies want to buy and sell in the Asia Pacific? According to data from M&A industry intelligence platform Mergermarket, last year saw PwC atop of the all-sector league table as the busiest M&A financial advisor in the region by deal count, ahead of Big Four rivals Deloitte and KPMG. PwC altogether worked on 172 deals featuring an APAC-based bidder, target or vendor, while Deloitte followed with a 132.

M&A split by deal size - Value

By deal value however, Deloitte eclipses PwC by some margin, yet is overshadowed in turn by a number of investment banking giants. Deloitte worked on deals totaling close to $45 billion last year, compared to a worth of just over $25 billion across PwC’s larger deal count. Ernst & Young was also more active at the upper end, serving on just 78 transactions, but which were together worth nearly $20 billion. KPMG advised on 108 deals worth just over $23 billion

Albeit switching their number one and two positions from last year, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs meanwhile each advised on deals collectively surpassing $1 trillion in value, the latter across just 70 deals for the year. Here, in terms of overall deal value, Deloitte only just scraped in at tenth on the list – but has made a significant jump from its 19th placing the year prior while ceding its top position for deal count to PwC (which also jumped ahead of KPMG).

Zooming in on the mid-market (deals described in Mergermarket’s analysis as of between $5 million to $25 million) can cut out some of the upper end noise. For example, although the overall APAC M&A market was depressed to $651.5 billion last year following a ten-year high of $777.2 billion in 2018, the top five deals in the region in 2019 combined for a worth of $45 billion alone. Advising on just one of these deals can cause a significant data spike.

When it comes to the mid-market sphere, PwC was again on top by count, with 108 deals, and also on top by value with a total of $7.6 billion worth of deals. Deloitte followed with work on 59 deals worth $3.9 billion, and with the big investment banks out of the picture, EY and KPMG were next for value with deals totaling a respective $3.7 billion and $3.3 billion. The latter pair however reversed their third and fourth position by count; KPMG with 52 deals and EY with 47.

As to PR advisors across all deals, multi-discipline international advisory FTI Consulting (noted for its work in the restructuring space, which can often lead to M&A) also featured in second spot on the count table, performing services on 35 deals, and in eighth spot by value with work on $15.7 billion worth of deals. Such activity has helped propel the fast-growing firm last year to its own turnover of $2.35 billion, with Strategic Communications as one its major lines.

Briefly burrowing down by sector, among the Big Four KPMG was ranked top for deal count as an M&A financial advisor to the financial services sector, while Deloitte was ahead in the value tally with work on $12 billion worth of deals. In the Industrials, Manufacturing & Engineering category, PwC led the way in the count and Deloitte again for value, with PwC repeating the count feat in the Energy, Mining, Oil & Gas, Healthcare & Life Sciences, and TMT segments.