On the 29th January the Financial Times reported global deal making had made its fastest start in nearly twenty years, citing a total of $273bn in mergers and acquisitions in the first month of 2018, the busiest January since the peak of the dotcom boom in 2000.
Bonanza time for corporate lawyers, many would think. However, whilst the global figures are growing encouragingly, attributed by many to increasing boardroom confidence following US tax reform, there are intriguing reports that global firms are not always finding rich pickings.
One of the growing markets attracting lots of competition is for the tens of billions of dollars worth of Chinese outbound M&A advisory work. However, the Financial Times reports that global firms are finding this market slim pickings, restricted by a local market unwilling to meet the routine costs usually charged by large western firms.
Whilst growing global M&A activity and the increased opportunities it offers must be welcomed by corporate lawyers, it's in intriguing reminder that the largest firms are not always best placed to capitalise on opportunities.
But when it comes to the tens of billions of dollars worth of Chinese outbound M&A advisory work at stake for global firms and their Chinese partners, one factor counts above all: cost. [...] Chinese firms’ ambitions are being boosted because Beijing has become increasingly wary of letting international firms too close to domestic businesses.