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KKR strikes 4 deals in Asia in a week: India’s Healthium tops list

Getting deals across the finish line is a challenge these days, with hurdles such as valuation gaps, market volatility, interest rates, financing and geopolitics all capable of scuppering a takeover.

Matters have been particularly tough in the Asia Pacific region, where the volume of mergers and acquisitions is almost 20% lower so far this year than in the same period in 2023, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The US has seen much more action with volumes jumping over 40%, while European deals are up more than 30%.

But this week brought some welcome relief to APAC, with alternative asset manager KKR & Co. defying the odds and striking four chunky deals.

The New York-based firm is acquiring Bengaluru-based medical device maker Healthium Medtech Ltd. from Apax Partners in a transaction valued at as much as $1 billion, according to people familiar with the matter. That deal reflects India’s growing allure to global investors.

KKR is also buying the wealth management and corporate trust units of Australian fund manager Perpetual Ltd. for A$2.175 billion ($1.44 billion).

“We’re seeing increased appetite for M&A in Asia Pacific, certainly compared to 2023,” said Edwin Northover, a partner at Debevoise & Plimpton in Hong Kong. “However, many of the same headwinds remain, so any pickup in activity is likely going to be slow and steady. This compares with the US, in particular, where activity has clearly ramped up.”

In Japan, KKR’s Logisteed unit made a tender offer for Alps Logistics Co. at a 33% premium to Thursday’s closing price. Alps Logistics has a market value of about $1.2 billion after its shares rallied nearly 50% in three days. KKR and Marriott International Inc. also entered the midscale hospitality industry in Japan, following an acquisition of Unizo Hotel Co. and a portfolio of 14 hotels.

“Australia, Japan and India emerged as bright spots for transactions last year and remain so,” said Northover, who also heads Debevoise & Plimpton’s financial institutions and corporate practice in Asia. “India is partly a beneficiary of the slowdown in Chinese deal activity, while the weaker yen and a focus on stability are attracting investors to Japan.”

The momentum goes beyond KKR’s deal spree. On Friday, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. offered S$1.4 billion ($1 billion) to buy the remainder of Great Eastern Holdings Ltd. that it doesn’t already own, reinforcing its wealth-management standing. Great Eastern’s shares surged a record 37%. Bloomberg

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