Singapore M&A deals buck regional downtrend to close up 125.6% to $47.6b in 2019: Report

Singapore's mergers and acquisitions activity in 2019 totalled $47.6 billion, despite a 5 per cent drop in deal count.
Singapore's mergers and acquisitions activity in 2019 totalled $47.6 billion, despite a 5 per cent drop in deal count.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) - Singapore's mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity in 2019 totalled US$35.3 billion (S$47.6 billion) in 2019, up 125.6 per cent from a year ago, deal intelligence service Mergermarket said in a report on Friday (Dec 3).

This is despite a 5 per cent drop in deal count to 134 deals, compared with 141 deals in 2018. The Republic also bucked the regional downtrend when it comes to M&A activity.

Mergermarket said geopolitical uncertainties reinforced Singapore's status as a "safe haven" for international investors. Singapore, as at end-October, recorded the highest amount of bank deposits since 2016 - from people outside the country - at US$36.3 billion.

Temasek Holdings, Singapore's state investor, was also identified as a "key M&A player" from both the buying and selling side in two major real estate and infrastructure-related deals.

In October, Temasek proposed the acquisition of a 30.5 per cent stake in Keppel Corporation for $4.08 billion, making it the third-largest M&A deal in the Asia-Pacific excluding Japan in 2019.

In January, it sold Ascendas-Singbridge to property developer CapitaLand for $11 billion, placing it as the fourth-largest M&A deal in the region excluding Japan for the year. This was the only Asian deal in Mergermarket's top five exit deals in 2019.

Overall, M&A activity in the Asia-Pacific excluding Japan stood at US$565.3 billion across 3,735 deals in 2019 - the lowest value since 2013 and the smallest deal count since 2014.

That being said, dealmaking in the same region regained some momentum in the fourth quarter of 2019, recording the largest quarterly value of US$165 billion across 1,049 deals. However, market share shrank to 17 per cent in 2019, from 20.4 per cent in 2018.

China and Hong Kong - the largest contributor to M&A activity in Asia, saw its global market share shrink to 8.8 per cent from 11.4 per cent a year ago. Deal value, meanwhile, dropped 27.6 per cent year on year to US$294.5 billion. Volume fell 17.2 per cent to 1,735 deals.