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Singapore M&A activity up 125.6% to US$35.3b in 2019: report

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

This is despite a 5 per cent decrease 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 a S$4.08 billion deal for an additional 30.55 per cent of Keppel Corporation's shares. The proposed deal is the third-largest M&A deal in the Asia-Pacific excluding Japan in 2019 for Mergermarket's top five list for the region. 

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