For most international law firms in Japan, outbound M&A has been the mainstay of their corporate practice. But, in 2022, the total deal value of outbound transactions by Japanese companies plunged 57% to $11.6 billion—the lowest level in the previous seven years, according to S&P Global.
The traditional drivers of overseas acquisitions—companies such as Olympus, Hitachi and Panasonic—had long been key sources of billion-dollar outbound deals for many global law firms in Japan. But that work all but dried up, leaving many international law firms to seek other avenues for growth. While there has been a slow uptick in outbound investments since the fourth quarter of last year, Japanese manufacturers and trading houses have remained cautious about purchasing assets abroad.