Morgan Stanley’s joint venture with Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group was the top adviser for Japanese mergers and acquisitions in the first half, a period marked by a sharp fall in deals amid growing uncertainty in the global economy.

Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities advised on 16 deals with a combined value of ¥1.86 trillion ($13.6 billion), according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The total value of all deals involving Japanese companies in the six months through June was roughly ¥12 trillion, down about 20% from a year earlier.

"Market conditions were tough,” said Atsushi Tatsuguchi, head of the M&A Advisory Group at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley in a phone interview. It was a sharp reversal from the year-earlier period, when Japanese companies resumed deal-making as businesses started returning to normal activities in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company is an investment banking joint venture between Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, which holds a 60% interest, and Morgan Stanley.

Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley was a financial adviser to Hitachi Transport System in KKR & Co.’s acquisition of the company, which was the biggest deal in Japan in the first half.

Tatsuguchi is optimistic about the outlook for the second half as he expects a pickup in deal-making activities as uncertainty in the macroeconomic environment decreases.

"I think it’s unlikely that a slowdown seen in the first half will drag on,” he said, adding he sees a steady pipeline for deals involving Japanese companies selling their noncore businesses.