Focusing on cross-border transactions by listed companies worth $750 million and over in the last five years, the report notes that 83 per cent of deals in India have faced “major setbacks”, such as regulatory probes, government opposition, stakeholder disputes or activist protests.

India is the most problematic jurisdiction in the survey, followed by Indonesia, where 60 per cent of deals face issues, and Mexico, where 43 per cent are held up. Brazil is the most favourable of the “investment hotspots” named, with just 17 per cent of deals affected, while in both China and South Africa 25 per cent faced setbacks.

According to the report, the higher the financial stake of high-growth market deal, the greater the chance of it hitting obstacles: 38 per cent of transactions valued at $2 billion and over encountered problems in the research period, compared with less than a quarter of sub-$2 billion matters. The report also notes little disparity between the circumstances of the buyers, with those from developed markets almost as likely to encounter problems as those from the developing world.

“M&A deals in growth markets usually have a different risk/reward profile when compared to M&A transactions in more mature markets,” says Freshfields corporate partner Bruce Embley. “This research underscores the importance of thinking through the likely issues and putting in place effective and resilient risk mitigation solutions. No deal team at any listed company wants to deliver the message to the board that its big emerging market investment has hit an unexpected and significant obstacle.”

“Regulators around the world have increasingly been flexing their muscles, especially since the global financial crisis,” adds Edward Braham, global head of corporate. “Investors ignore the potential regulatory impact on their deals at their peril.”