Asia M&A hits record, deals top $1 trillion in 2015

Globe

Deal-makers across Asia-Pacific were hustling in 2015, racking up more than $1 trillion in mergers and acquisitions, topping 2014's record by 37 percent, Dealogic said.

That accounted for a record 24 percent share of announced global deals, the data provider said, citing preliminary full-year data.

Domestic M&A volume in Asia-Pacific also hit a record high of $947.9 billion, accounting for 81 percent of the region's $1.16 trillion total, Dealogic said.

Intra-Asia deals -- or deals where an Asian acquirer targets Asian assets -- also surged around 34 percent in value to $72.3 billion in 2015, the data show.

The commodity rout may be driving a big chunk of the deal-making.

Australia-targeted deals in the commodity sector -- including the metal & steel, forestry & paper, mining, oil & gas, utility & energy and agribusiness segments -- climbed around 40 percent in 2015, the data show. The mining segment had the biggest percentage jump, surging nearly 230 percent to $14.7 billion, the data show.

Those deals include an $11.45 billion offer for Santos from Scepter Partners -- an offer Santos rejected in October, but which may still be waiting in the wings. Brookfield Asset Management and Macquarie Group also teamed up to complete a deal in April to acquire Australian assets from Apache Corp. for $2.1 billion.

Commodity prices have tumbled nearly across the board to multi-year lows this year, with oil prices down around 30 percent and iron ore off more than 40 percent. That may have left many companies and assets looking like bargains to buyers with strong nerves.

The Japanese went shopping abroad, totting up a whopping $90.49 billion in overseas acquisitions, up nearly 70 percent from 2014, the data show. The U.S. was Japanese acquirers' most desired destination, where they racked up $35.75 billion of deals, while China was the runner-up for Japanese companies' shopping at $10.48 billion, the data show.

Recent reforms to corporate governance rules have put Japanese corporations under pressure to boost return on equity (ROE) and spend their cash holdings, which stood at a record 87 trillion yen in fiscal 2014, Goldman Sachs noted earlier this year.

Additionally, the threshold for deal returns for Japanese companies is relatively low, with the Japan 10-year government bond yielding only around 0.28 percent.

China-targeted M&A led Asia-Pacific for both volume of deals and their value for an eight straight year, with a record 4,542 deals valued at $575.6 billion, the data show.

-Mia Tahara-Stubbs contributed to this article

—By CNBC.Com's Leslie Shaffer; Follow her on Twitter @LeslieShaffer1

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