A total of $US6.8bn ($11bn) worth of mergers and acquisitions were withdrawn in Australia in the March quarter, according to data from financial data group Refinitiv.

The number of deals pulled was 21, a 50 per cent increase on the same period last year, and ran from the biggest offers through to small cap agreements.

Real estate accounted for 84.3 per cent of deal value after private equity groups Gaw Capital Partners and Warburg Pincus pulled out of a $1.7bn bid for National Storage in February.

US bidder Public Storage withdrew its $1.83bn bid a month later.

The 10 largest deals to be pulled were:

Target Name Date Offer Made Date Withdrawn Ranking Valueinc. Net Debt of Target ($Mil) Acquiror Name Acquiror Nation
National Storage REIT 02/14/20 03/18/20 1,830.25 Public Storage Inc United States
National Storage REIT 02/18/20 02/27/20 1,723.09 GAW Capital Partners Hong Kong
National Storage REIT 02/18/20 02/28/20 1,723.09 Warburg Pincus LLC United States
Crown Resorts Ltd 05/30/19 02/06/20 608.54 Melco Resorts & Entertainment Hong Kong
Australian Unity Office Fund 01/29/20 03/20/20 424.15 SOF-XI Legs Holdings Ltd British Virgin
Panoramic Resources Ltd 11/04/19 01/17/20 202.64 Independence Group NL Australia
CML Group Ltd 11/13/19 03/31/20 70.11 Consolidated Operations Group Australia
Export Corp (Australia) Pty Ltd 11/07/19 03/20/20 58.50 OBJ Ltd Australia
Blend & Pack Pty Ltd 11/15/19 04/03/20 55.00 Wattle Health Australia Australia
Auctus Chillagoe Holdings Pty Ltd 02/10/20 03/23/20 35.56 Consolidated Tin Mines Ltd Australia
Ion Mining Pty Ltd 12/22/17 02/12/20 7.17 Eastern Iron Ltd Australia
Target Name Date Offer Made Date Withdrawn Ranking Valueinc. Net Debt of Target ($Mil) Acquiror Name Acquiror Nation

Before the market tanked from February 20, market analysts were suggesting that private equity was looking at unlisted companies priced between $20m and $200m for deals.

Two months later the field for bargain hunters has been blown open, as companies scrabble for cash in a fearful bear market.

The difference is the playing field has been tilted towards local acquirers, after the government changed foreign investment rules to require that all deals involving foreign-based buyers must be approved by the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB).

Lawyers from Gilbert & Tobin suggest this will benefit cashed up, fast moving Australian acquirers if the FIRB becomes bogged down in applications.