SINGAPORE/HONG KONG, June 30 (Reuters) - The volume of Asia ex-Japan mergers and acquisitions surged to a record $640 billion in the first half, preliminary data released by Thomson Reuters showed, driven by the deal-making spree of Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing.
Bankers said a spate of potential consumer retail deals and the delisting of more Chinese companies from U.S. stock markets were likely to keep them busy in the second-half.
Companies controlled by Asia's richest man Li launched a combined $103.7 billion worth of M&A deals, accounting for at least 16 percent of the region's overall M&A activity during the first six months of the year, the data shows.
"M&A volumes have increased substantially for Asia ex-Japan, driven primary by restructuring in Greater China," said John Kim, head of M&A for Asia ex-Japan at Goldman Sachs.
"The strong A-share market performance has led to a large number of take-private deals for U.S.-listed Chinese companies. The trend is expected to continue as more Chinese companies look to move their listing back to China," he added.
More than 17 Chinese companies have exited U.S. markets this year, adding to last year's tally of 19, consulting firm EY said, as they seek better valuations at home.
Goldman Sachs topped the M&A league table working on $147 billion deals, followed by HSBC Holdings. Goldman also earned $109.4 million in advisory fees, taking the top slot for completed deals, according to estimates from Thomson Reuters and Freeman Consulting. UBS and Macquarie Group ranked second and third.
Tesco Plc's ongoing sale of its South Korea unit and Suntory Holdings Ltd's planned sale of cognac maker Louis Royer are among the consumer deals likely to be concluded in the second-half.
Chinese companies were the preferred target of acquisitions by both domestic and foreign buyers with deals of $284 billion, up 76 from a year ago. This accounted for 51 percent of Asia Pacific-target M&A activity, the data showed.
Hong Kong and Australia followed, with a market share of 21 percent and 10.5 percent, respectively.
The real estate sector made up the largest portion of the acquisitions involving Asia Pacific companies with $95 billion in deal value and captured 15 percent of the region's M&A activity.
The telecommunications industry saw the most significant increase in deal value at $75 billion so far this year, up from $6.8 billion in the first half of 2014. (Editing by Miral Fahmy)