“Japan-related M&A activity will remain strong in 2023” – DLA Piper corporate partner

FA speaks to recently appointed DLA Piper Tokyo-based recruit, Peter Armstrong, about Japan’s strategic investment outlook.

Earlier this month, DLA Piper announced the recruitment of Peter Armstrong as partner within the firm’s Tokyo-based corporate practice.

Originally qualified in Canada and a registered foreign lawyer in Japan (外国事務弁護士), Armstrong moved to the firm from Nishimura & Asahi, where he most recently served as a foreign law partner.

Fluent in Japanese, the DLA Piper release pointed to his extensive experience working with both domestic and international clients on Japan related investments, M&A deals and joint ventures.

“I believe that Japan-related M&A activity will remain strong in 2023,” Armstrong told FinanceAsia.

“The relatively weaker yen has spurred an uptick in inward investment and outward deal flow has remained steady, demonstrating the general resilience of the Japanese market and continued focus on international business growth,” he said.

Armstrong explained that the bulk of Japan-related M&A remains outward in nature, and that over the course of coming months, most international acquisitions will continue to be “strategic with a view to supporting international business growth”.

In terms of domestic activity, he highlighted those opportunities that address energy and economic security concerns as critical, with the relatively weaker yen and easing of Covid-19-related restrictions also likely to bring “marked growth in real estate acquisitions.”

“I anticipate energy, supply chain consolidation/integration and technology-related transactions to continue to drive the market in 2023,” he shared. 

Renewable projects raise the bar

Armstrong brings to the law firm specific expertise in renewable energy projects including onshore and offshore wind, solar pv, biomass and geothermal power projects.

He offered FA perspective on Japan’s project pipeline.

“The Japanese government wants to be a global leader in the green energy transition and has set very ambitious targets that will require significant investment to achieve.”

Read also “Increases in certain commodity prices are making some projects look more viable” – leading project finance expert sees opportunity amid uncertainty.

To date, Taiwan has led Asia's offshore wind development effort. While the market’s flagship projects have drawn investment from infrastructure powerhouses such as Macquarie and CDPQ, so too have Japanese players participated, partially with a view to acquiring technical prowess for application in the domestic market.

At the end of December, the Japanese government launched a new public tender for offshore wind power with revised rules to encourage participation from a wider range of investors and developers. It will run until the end of June, with results expected in March 2024.

“In the near term, the interest and development of offshore wind will continue to accelerate.  We are eager to see the result of the second offshore wind auction and hope that a wider range of industry players are invited to participate, which would encourage even further inward investment into this sector.”

Armstrong underlined that technological developments are also aiding the development of the renewables sector.

“Turbine technology continues to develop.  With the construction of test sites in progress, the advent of floating turbines suited to the Japanese environment appears near at hand, which will unlock vast amounts of Japanese coastline for future offshore wind development.”

Indeed, the market has also been exploring technology to enable hydrogen-derived renewable energy. Japan was the first to develop a national hydrogen strategy.

“[Japan] has actively invested in and supported the development of a hydrogen economy,” Armstrong noted.

He cited several hydrogen test projects – including the Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain (HESC) pilot, which in April 2022 announced the successful transportation of liquid hydrogen from Australia to Kobe, in Japan’s Kansai region.

“More such announcements should be expected for 2023.  It seems clear from recent press releases that hydrogen will play a key role in Japan’s energy transition.” 

Increased insitutional interest

Hailing from Canada, Armstrong is an active member of Japan’s Canadian Chamber of Commerce and frequently speaks at Japan-Canada trade events.

“I have been fortunate to assist a number of Canadian entities, including institutional investors and funds, on their successful investments in Japan, as well as investments by Japanese entities into Canada.”

He explained that these investments tend to relate to natural resources and energy, but recently there have been a number of significant technology, pharmaceutical and agrifood-related investments.

“I was very pleased to see Canada’s recently announced Indo-Pacific Strategy, which confirms Canada’s commitment to the Asia-Pacific region.”

“Consistent with this statement, and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Trade (CPTPP) to which both Japan and Canada are signatories, I anticipate that Japan-Canada trade will continue to increase.”      

Armstrong has been based in Japan since autumn 2010 and has held roles at several firms in Tokyo, including at Baker McKenzie and Nagahima Ohno & Tsunematsu. His appointment follows that of Xin Fang, who was recently hired from Mayer Brown as a corporate partner in the law firm’s Hong Kong office, specialising in cross-border M&A, JVs and PE-related transactions.


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