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Asian Mergers and Acquisitions Set Record

Merger and acquisition deals in Asia set a record this year and Qantas Airlines is upgrading its fleet with the purchase of new aircraft.

The value of completed mergers and acquisitions in the Asia-Pacific region surged this year to a record $370 billion, up 39 percent from 2004.

A study by accounting firm KPMG shows that almost 7,000 deals were made in the region in 2005, 50 percent more than last year.

KPMG says Japan and China led the growth.

The region's biggest merger was between Mitsubishi Tokyo Financial Group and UFJ Holdings in Japan in October.

Vishal Sharma, a KPMG corporate finance director in Singapore, believes the growth trend will continue.

"Given the fact that Japan will gather steam in the coming year, China will continue to perform as it is, India is looking outward for merger and acquisition opportunities," he said. "I would expect that Asia would continue to have some fairly healthy growth numbers for M and A activities in the near term."

Australian flag carrier Qantas Airways placed a $10 billion order for 65 Boeing 787 planes, with an option to buy 50 more.

Delivery will start in 2008. Jetstar Airways, a low-cost unit of Qantas, will operate some of the planes.

The order was a blow to Boeing's European rival, Airbus, which had also been lobbying Qantas to buy its planes.

In other news from Australia, a leading Indian hotel group purchased a luxury hotel in Sydney for $27 million.

Indian Hotels Company Limited, which runs the Taj chain of hotels, bought the five-star "W" hotel in Sydney from Hong Kong's Harilela family.

It was the Indian hotel group's first acquisition in Australia.

Citigroup has offered $1.5 billion for a 50 percent stake in China's Guangdong Development Bank. Citigroup outbid three other would-be investors - the Dutch bank ABN AMRO, France's Societe Generale and DBS Group Holdings of Singapore.

China's central government is expected to decide on the deal by early 2006.

International banks are trying to secure a foothold in China's rapidly expanding banking sector, ahead of a scheduled full opening of the country's banking industry to foreign competition in 2006.