A&L Goodbody tops M&A table after last-minute intervention

A&L Goodbody has retained its status at the top of Mergermarket’s Irish M&A league table, after a spat that resulted in eleventh-hour amendments to the announced deal tables, pushing the firm back into the number one position.

A bug in Mergermarket’s system resulted in a preliminary version of the first quarter tables being sent out to law firms and the media. The version was later amended to show A&L Goodbody’s deals rise from three deals to eight.

Under the amended version, Goodbodys was ranked in second place by value and first by volume, with eight deals totalling e1.05bn (£702m). Under the first tables released, the firm was ranked third by value and by volume.

A Mergermarket spokesperson said: “There was a bug in the system that meant a preliminary version of the table was sent out
by accident. We’ve since corrected the bug.”

Last year, Arthur Cox led the tables for the first three quarters, but was then overtaken by Goodbodys when it announced 16 deals in the final quarter.

Chief among Goodbodys’ deals for 2004 was a supporting role on the largest deal announced, which saw Warburg Pincus bid for
Irish packaging company Clondalkin Group. The firm assisted Warburg Pincus’s primary advisers Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and McCann FitzGerald. Clifford Chance acted for Clondalkin.

Elsewhere, Goodbodys advised Elan Corporation on its restructuring, which has resulted in the departure of much of its legal department (see front cover of supplement). The work included the sale of Elan’s North American and European interests in Zonegran, an epilepsy drug, to the Japanese pharmaceutical company Eisai. Covington & Burling made a rare appearance in the Irish tables at fourteenth place on the strength of its work for Eisai.

Goodbodys’ other deals included advising Ulster Bank on its acquisition of Easycash, Ireland’s largest specialist ATM company, and acting for The Anglo-Celt newspaper on its acquisition by Celtic Media Group.

Ireland’s McCann Fitz-Gerald and William Fry ranked fourth and fifth for value, advising on five deals with a total value of €752m (£503m) and €741m (£496m) respectively. The result is a boost for McCann Fitzgerald, which last year ranked in fifteenth place by value, advising on 7 deals with a total value of €292m (£195.41m).

Another indigenous firm, Matheson Ormsby Prentice, slipped out of the top 20 altogether. Last year, the firm was placed sixth in the by-value table, but for the first quarter of 2004 it advised on two deals worth a total of just £6m, according to Mergermarket.

Meanwhile, UK firms flexed their muscles on the bigger transactions. Aside from its role on the Warburg Pincus deal, Freshfields also advised ICI Group on the sale of Quest International’s food business to Kerry Group.

Clifford Chance ranked first in the deals by value table on the strength of a deal with a rather tenuous Irish connection – the acquisition by Italian telecommunications company Holinvest of a 2.2 per cent stake in Telecom Italia. Only the vendor, Nexgen Capital, is based in Ireland.

Elsewhere, Linklaters and Portugal’s Gonçalves Pereira Castelo Branco e Associados made an appearance in the Irish M&A tables after the firms advised on building materials group CRH’s €512m (£342.63m) acquisition of Portuguese cement manufacturer Secil.

However, underlying the recent spats are claims from law firms in Ireland and elsewhere that M&A tables are misleading because they do not differentiate between the main and supporting role on deals.
Commenting on the complaints, a Mergermarket spokesperson said: “Our tables are done on dominant geography.” She added: “There have been a lot of property deals in Ireland but the M&A tables don’t track property deals.”

Top 20 firms by value
Rank Company name Value
€m
Value
£m
Number of
deals
1 Clifford Chance 1,223 818 2
2 A&L Goodbody 1,049 702 8
3 Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer 984 658 2
4 McCann FitzGerald 752 503 5
5 William Fry 741 496 5
6 Baker & McKenzie 593 397 1
7= Gonçalves Pereira Castelo Branco e Associados 512 343 1
7= Linklaters 512 343 1
9 Van Doorne 361 242 2
10= Ashurst 354 237 1
10= Nauta Dutilh 354 237 1
12 Allen & Overy 253 169 2
13 Arthur Cox 224 150 4
14= Cahill Gordon & Reindel 198 133 1
14= Covington & Burling 198 133 1
14= Mason Hayes & Curran 198 133 1
17= Burges Salmon 126 84 2
17= Pinsents 126 84 2
19 Nabarro Nathanson 117 78 1
20 Patrick C Clary Chartered 78 52 1
Top 20 firms by volume
Rank Company name Number of
deals
Value
€m
Value
£m
1 A&L Goodbody 8 1,049 702
2= McCann FitzGerald 5 752 503
2= William Fry 5 741 496
4 Arthur Cox 4 224 150
5= Clifford Chance 2 1,223 818
5= Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer 2 984 658
5= Van Doorne 2 361 242
5= Allen & Overy 2 253 169
5= Burges Salmon 2 126 84
5= Pinsents 2 126 84
5= Matheson Ormsby Prentice 2 10 7
12= Baker & McKenzie 1 593 397
12= Gonçalves Pereira Castelo Branco e Associados 1 512 343
12= Linklaters 1 512 343
12= Ashurst 1 354 237
12= Nauta Dutilh 1 354 237
12= Cahill Gordon & Reindel 1 198 133
12= Covington & Burling 1 198 133
12= Mason Hayes & Curran 1 198 133
12= Nabarro Nathanson 1 117 78