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Mergers and acquisitions slowed globally in 2017, but Malaysia was an exception

  • Malaysia sealed $17.57 billion from 408 mergers and acquisitions in 2017 — the highest in five years, the latest Duff & Phelps's Transaction Trail report showed
  • The increase in both M&A volume and value in the Southeast Asian country contrasted with the slowdown in global activity

Many reports that track corporate deal-making have confirmed a global slowdown in 2017, but one country has bucked the trend, according to advisory firm Duff & Phelps.

Malaysia recorded $17.57 billion worth of mergers and acquisitions from 408 deals in 2017 — the highest level in five years, the latest Duff & Phelps's Transaction Trail report showed on Tuesday. Last year, Malaysia sealed 375 transactions worth $14.25 billion.

The increase in both M&A volume and value in the Southeast Asian country contrasted with the slowdown in global activity, Duff & Phelps said. The firm's data show there were 36,718 transactions valued at $2.82 trillion in 2017, down from 40,305 deals worth $3.61 trillion the previous year.

"Globally, there's been a bit of a slowdown in M&A deal activity, PE (private equity) and VC (venture capital) investments as well. We've seen a bit of slowdown in China as well but we seem to be seeing an increase in Southeast Asia," Srividya Gopalakrishnan, managing director at Duff & Phelps, told CNBC.

Companies from China and Hong Kong, facing government restrictions on capital outflows, have turned to Southeast Asia for business opportunities, Gopalakrishnan added. That has helped to fuel activities in the region and is expected to continue into the next year.

Chinese and Hong Kong companies last year "did a lot of global acquisitions," she said. "Now they seem to be looking more at Southeast Asia, because the deal sizes aren't that big but they still give them great impetus for their own growth."