Mainland companies most eager for M&As

Mainland companies are the biggest buyers in Asia of other companies, according to a survey that found nine out of 10 executives questioned planning to conduct mergers and acquisitions in the next 12 months,

The survey of 258 senior executives in Asia commissioned by legal firm Norton Rose in March showed mainland executives had not been discouraged by disappointing deals such as TCL Multimedia Technology's purchase of TCL Thomson Electronics, a deal that traces its roots back to 2003.

TCL Multimedia reported a loss of US$205 million in the first half of last year due to problems with the European business it obtained in the deal.

'The individual disappointing acquisition cases will not discourage Chinese companies from buying overseas companies. They are just going to be more careful in looking at what they are buying,' Norton Rose partner Richard Crosby said.

The study showed mainland companies were the biggest buyers among Asian firms of counterparts in the west, conducting 23 acquisitions of western companies with a combined value of US$6 billion.

Indian firms ranked second, conducting 126 deals to buy western companies worth US$4.7 billion.

The study showed Asia companies excluding Japanese firms did more than 2,073 cross-border deals last year to buy Asia and western firms valued at US$52.4 billion, almost double the number five years ago.

Financial services and telecoms are the most attractive targets.

Sixty per cent of Asian companies surveyed expected possible M&As in the next 12 months. The mainland ranked top, with 92 per cent of companies saying they would buy in the next 12 months, followed by 80 per cent in India, 71 per cent in Singapore and 58 per cent in Hong Kong.

Companies cited regulations as the major obstacles to acquisitions.