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Surge of Chinese deals drives Asia M&A to record high

Chinese buyers splurged over $120 billion on acquisitions in 1H 2014, Dealogic says.Chinese buyers splurged over $120 billion on acquisitions in 1H 2014, Dealogic says.
Chinese buyers splurged over $120 billion on acquisitions in 1H 2014, Dealogic says.Lucas Schifres--Getty Images

Merger and acquisition activity in the Asia-Pacific region has surged to its highest level since 2007, helped by a wave of Chinese buying, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

The WSJ said deals across the region rose 41% in the first half of the year to $368 billion, with Chinese buyers accounting for over a third of that.

In contrast to earlier waves of Chinese money, this one hasn’t just been focused on the search for commodities to feed and power its resource-hungry economy.

The WSJ noted that deals done by e-commerce companies Tencent  Holdings Ltd and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd accounted for much of the total, while Lenovo Group’s splurged over $5 billion on deals with Google Inc’s (GOOG) and International Business Machines Corp (IBM).

All the same, China’s search for commodities is still continuing, with Australia still the preferred destination, thanks to its abundant resources and its stable regulatory environment.  State-backed steelmaker Baosteel said Wednesday it’s close to completing the $1.3 billion acquisition of Aquila Resources, which has large coking coal and iron ore assets in Queensland and Western Australia, respectively.

Boom times have returned for corporate finance bankers across the globe this year, as equity valuations, fuelled by loose monetary policy in the U.S., Europe and Japan, have soared to levels where sellers can now be tempted to part with their assets.

The value of U.S. M&A in the first half rose by more than 50% from a year earlier to $816 billion, while in Europe, it rose 37% to $508 billion, according to data provided by Dealogic.

For Asia at least, bankers are hoping that two elections will keep the conditions for further deal-making favorable in the second half of the year.

India’s new Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently came to power on a ticket of encouraging inward investment. In Indonesia meanwhile, markets are backing Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo to create a more stable, less corrupt environment in which cross-border investment can thrive.

Reuters reported that a majority of snap exit polls at the end of Wednesday’s election in Indonesia put Widodo ahead of his main rival. However, official results won’t be available for 10 days and may be susceptible to challenges, it said.