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Herbert Smith Freehills has maintained its position as the market-leading expert in Australasian mergers and acquisitions after topping three of the leading M&A legal advisor league tables for the 2016 calendar year.

The firm ranked:

  • 1st by both value and deal count of announced deals in Australasia (Mergermarket)
  • 1st by deal count of announced and completed deals in Australia and New Zealand (Thomson Reuters)
  • 1st by deal count of announced deals in Australia and New Zealand (Bloomberg)


According to Thomson Reuters, in 2016 announced Asia Pacific M&A deals reached a combined total of US$896.3 billion (down 22% from 2015) and Asia Pacific targets accounted for 25% of worldwide M&A, compared to 21% for Europe.

China outbound activity in 2016 hit US$220.9 billion from 906 deals, a 45% increase in the number of transactions year on year. Meanwhile, Australia's outbound activity in 2016 reached US$18.7 billion from 313 deals.

Herbert Smith Freehills partner Rebecca Maslen-Stannage said: “Although the total value of deals declined in Asia Pacific in 2016, the level of deal activity, particularly in the last quarter, reflects the market’s continued appetite for M&A and provides a healthy outlook for the year ahead.

“Last year, various economic and political headwinds including Brexit and the US election threatened to dampen activity levels, and while there was a brief slowdown following Brexit, the market was quick to regain its momentum with a number of significant strategic deals announced late in the year.

“The market responded positively to post-election statements by the incoming US President about infrastructure spending and direction in the United States, and boards appear to have concluded there is no reason to put their strategic transactions on hold.

“After a strong finish to the year, confidence levels remain high and we can expect another reasonably strong year ahead. In particular, the financial services, infrastructure, technology and media sectors are likely to see another solid year of deal making, and we also expect activity to pick up in the resources and energy sectors.

“In addition, the successful acquisition of Asciano in 2016 is likely to inspire more big-ticket M&A activity, potentially by consortium bidders. As a result, the prospects for both deal volumes and total deal value in 2017 look very promising.”

Herbert Smith Freehills acted on Australia’s largest, most complex and market-defining deals of 2016 including advising:

  • The Lonsdale Consortium on its $9.7 billion acquisition of Port of Melbourne
  • Brookfield Partners on its A$9b joint takeover of Asciano
  • oOh!media Limited on its A$1.6 billion merger with APN Outdoor
  • Broadspectrum on its A$830 million takeover by Ferrovial;
  • Pacific Brands on its acquisition by HanesBrands Inc
  • Allegro Funds on its acquisition of Pizza Hut in Australia from US-based parent company Yum! Brands
  • SAS Trustee Corporation on the sale of State Super Financial Services Australia Limited to First State Super