The total value of merger and acquisition deals in the Virgin Islands rose by 25 percent last year in comparison to 2017, according to a recent report from the international law firm Appleby.

Though the total number of deals dipped between 2017 and 2018 — which was similar to the offshore region as a whole — the jurisdiction’s total deal value was up, the report maintained.

VI entities were targeted in 500 transactions worth $46.8 billion last year, making the territory among the busiest jurisdictions for offshore deal making, according to Jeffrey Kirk, the VI managing partner and local group head of corporate at Appleby.

The VI was also involved in 865 “outbound” deals, or deals where the acquirer is based off-shore, valued at a total of $58.8 billion.

Appleby reported that those transactions included the fourth-largest outbound deal of the year: Shanghai Port Group (BVI) Development and Faulkner Global Holdings’ $6.1 billion acquisition of Orient Overseas (International) Ltd.

Overall, the offshore region saw a five percent drop in its 2018 inbound deal count, with 2,781 transactions recorded.

But 57 of those deals each exceeded $1 billion — including nine “megadeals” exceeding $5 billion — leading to a “significant” rise in the total value of deals, Appleby said.

One of those gigantic transactions included Japan’s Takeda Pharmaceutical Co.’s $58.5 billion acquisition of the Jersey-incorporated company Shire Plc. Acquisitions now make up nearly half of all offshore M&A activity, Appleby stated.

“Investing companies are no longer content to just take a seat on the board, but want full control of an asset in order to gain a competitive advantage over rivals,” said Cameron Adderley, partner and global head of corporate at Appleby. “This drive to do strategic deals is likely to continue, providing finance remains readily available [and] interest rate rises predictable, and markets continue to be stable.”

The Cayman Islands also clocked in as the busiest jurisdiction for offshore deals, with 867 transactions, followed by Hong Kong with 709 deals, the VI with 504 deals, and Bermuda with 307 deals.