China and Taiwan led a record foreign acquisition spree in Japan last year, as traditional barriers to larger-scale inbound dealmaking fell and Asia increased its dominance as the world’s biggest buyer.
Although the number of inbound deals was slightly lower in 2016 than in the previous year, their total value of ¥2.56tn ($22bn), according to data from the Japanese research house Recof, marked a 150 per cent increase from 2015 levels. Bankers and lawyers say that trajectory is likely to continue this year.
M&A consultants expect Japan to emerge as an even richer source of potential deal targets as the yen remains weak against the dollar, many smaller listed companies continue to command relatively low price/book ratios and ageing demographics encourage elderly company owners to cash in by selling out.
Of the 201 foreign mergers and acquisitions in Japan last year, deals by Asian buyers — emboldened by the spectacle of venerable Japanese electronics company Sharp falling into Taiwanese hands — represented almost half. Investment into Japan by Asian companies topped ¥1tn for the first time in 2016.
The most striking trend within that, said bankers, was the increase in activity by Chinese and Taiwanese buyers, who spent ¥933.2bn across 51 Japanese deals — a record both by value and number of cases, according to data from Recof. The amount spent by Chinese and Taiwanese buyers was nearly five times that of Japanese deals done by US companies, according to Dealogic.
The Asian dealmaking record was dominated by the $3.5bn takeover of century-old Sharp by Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry, better known as Foxconn.
在亚洲创纪录的并购交易中，鸿海精密（Hon Hai Precision Industry，更被人熟知的名字是富士康）以35亿美元收购百年日企夏普的交易最为引人注目。
That deal, according to bankers, was a “psychological breakthrough” for Asian buyers who had long seen Japan as resistant to takeover bids from the region. For years, Tokyo has intervened to prevent key Japanese technologies from falling into foreign hands. In 2012 the government-backed Innovation Network Corp of Japan thwarted a bid by US private equity group KKR for a majority stake in Japanese chipmaker Renesas Electronics.
据银行人士称，对于亚洲买家而言，那笔交易是一种“心理突破”，长期以来，亚洲买家一直认为日本抵制来自本地区的收购报价。多年来，日本政府曾出手干预，阻止日本关键技术落入外国人手中。2012年，得到政府支持的日本产业革新机构株式会社(Innovation Network Corporation of Japan)挫败了美国私人股本集团KKR购入日本芯片制造商瑞萨电子(Renesas Electronics)多数股权的交易。