Merger and takeover activity in the Asia-Pacific region outside Japan slowed in the first nine months of the year with China being the busiest, according to data compiled by Thomson Financial. The value of all announced deals fell 22.57 per cent to US$60.9 billion, compared with the same period last year, while the number of completed transactions dropped 16.34 per cent to $44.91 billion. JP Morgan advanced to the top of the league tables after advising on 21 transactions worth $8.86 billion. The United States investment bank was involved in three of the four largest deals, including Shinhan Financial's acquisition of fellow South Korean lender Chohung Bank, which is the largest deal so far this year at $2.82 billion. The second-largest transaction in the region was the $2.2 billion bid for Loy Yang Power in Australia by Sorona and Genting International. Malaysian firm Petronas' acquisition of Egyptian LNG, worth $1.77 billion, was the third largest. Citigroup was second in the adviser rankings, with an involvement in 16 deals worth $8.07 billion, including the Loy Yang Power deal. Morgan Stanley was ranked third after advising on 21 deals worth $6.97 billion. On a sector basis, commercial banks and bank-holding companies were involved in announced deals worth $7.39 billion, or 14.4 per cent, followed by investment and commodity firms with a 12.3 per cent market share. 'The financial sector will continue to be a major driver in the next 18 months or so as there will be more convergence, consolidation and take-out of excess capacity, be it in Taiwan, Korea, Hong Kong or somewhere else,' said Catherine Leung, a banker with JP Morgan's Hong Kong investment banking team. 'In the telecommunications sector, consolidation is also absolutely necessary and I think that will continue,' she said. China was the busiest market in the region in the first three quarters with 1,010 transactions worth $12.28 billion. South Korea was second with 145 deals worth $11.23 billion, followed by Hong Kong where 393 deals generated $7.09 billion. 'A lot of the China deals take place without advisers but the companies are increasingly seeing the value of using professional expertise so there is likely to be even more activity coming from there,' said Simon Kavanagh, who works in JP Morgan's M&A team in Hong Kong.