Australian M&A up 29% in 2017

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Australian M&A up 29% in 2017

There was a jump in M&A activity in 2017, rising 29.2% compared to 2016.

A newly-release report from Acuris shows that there were a record 580 deals with a total value of AU$113 billion last year, the second highest annual value in 9 years.

Inbound M&A was also record-breaking in 2017 with 243 deals worth $80.5 billion – a surge of 141.5% from 2016.

The top sector was energy, mining and utilities which overtook transportation as the most-targeted sector by value ($37.1 billion) with 77 deals, up 56.7% by value from 2016. A consortium led by Cheung Kong Property to acquire Duet Group was the top deal for this sector with a value of AU$ 13.1bn.

The megadeal of the year was French real estate giant Unibail-Rodamco’s $32.6bn bid for Westfield Corporation which put real estate as the top inbound sector of the year.

Herbert Smith Freehills was Australia’s top legal advisor by deal count and value in 2017.

HFW expands Asia Pacific team

Three new partners have joined HFW in Asia Pacific including two former managing partners.

Finance partner Siri Wennevik, projects and energy partner Alistair Duffield and corporate partner Ivan Chia have all joined the firm’s long-standing Singapore office.

Wennvik was formerly Singapore managing partner at Wikborg Rein with a practice that covers a broad range of shipping and offshore finance and commercial transactions. She joins HFW's international ship and offshore finance practice.

Duffield joins next month after two years running his own legal risk consultancy but was formerly managing partner for BLP in Southeast Asia and was a partner at White & Case. He returns to HFW where he spent almost 8 years as a partner and headed the firm’s mining group.

Chia will also join in February from Watson Farley & Williams with a practice covering a range of corporate transactional work across the energy and transport sectors.

Compliance, regulatory matters most concerning for in-house teams

Four in ten in-house legal teams say they are most concerned about compliance and regulatory matters over the next 12 months.

A Robert Half Legal survey reveals that M&A is a distant second (14%) followed by risk and crisis management (13%) and data privacy & security (12%).

"Staying current with changing government regulations and business mandates will be a chief concern for corporate counsel in the months ahead," said Jamy Sullivan, executive director of Robert Half Legal. "Workloads are expected to increase as legal departments concentrate on ensuring business compliance while assessing market expansion opportunities."