Three of the four big accounting firms were included in the top 10 of South Korea’s mergers and acquisitions (M&A) financial advisory league table in 2020, as their efforts to take a bigger share from global investment banks began to bear fruit.

Samil PwC, Samjong KPMG and EY Hanyoung ranked third, eighth and ninth respectively in the table compiled by thebell. Notably, Samil PwC jumped eight spots to take third position, with 2.5 trillion won ($2.3 billion) or a 6.81% market share.

This marked an improvement from 2019, when Deloitte Anjin and Samjong KPMG were the only two firms among the top four domestic players to be included in the top 10. They were ninth and tenth respectively, with each having a share of about 5%.

South Korea’s M&A financial advisory market has long been dominated by global investment banks. Credit Suisse topped the league table in 2020 with 8.42 trillion won in deals and a 15.98% market share, just ahead of Morgan Stanley with 8.07 trillion won and a 15.32% share.

However, large domestic accounting firms are catching up, as they gradually increase their market presence by focusing on smaller deals. Samil PwC advised on 37 deals and Samjong KPMG advised on 26 deals last year, compared with 16 deals and seven deals respectively for Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley.

Accounting firms advised on more transactions involving private equity firms, which accounted for over 51% of deals by value, and responded quickly to an increase in restructuring deals. Samil PwC advised Doosan Group on the sale of Doosan Solus, its copper foil maker unit, and Kolmar Korea on the sale of its pharmaceutical business. Samjong KPMG also advised Hanwha Hotels & Resorts on the sale of its food services operations and Daewoo Engineering & Construction on the sale of its golf course Paganica.

The expanded market share by local firms is expected to continue this year, industry watchers said. Accounting firms have created specialist teams to enhance their M&A financial advisory capacity, and have increased their focus on cross-border deals. (Reporting by Ar-rum Rho)