Ashurst Morris Crisp has knocked Slaughter and May from the number two position for value of UK public takeovers it has advised on so far this year.
Ashursts has risen dramatically up Acquisitions Monthly's M&A league table in the past two and a half years: moving from 13th place at the end of 1995 to fourth place a year later. Slaughters has moved down to number four.
Linklaters has consolidated its position at the top with 18 deals worth a total of £5.9bn, £400m more than Ashursts' deal value. Half the value came from advising East Midlands Electricity during the £1.3bn bid by US company Dominion Resources, and Chubb Security on its £1.3 acquisition by Williams Holdings.
Clifford Chance has also moved up the table, from number nine at the end of last year to number three halfway through this year, knocking Freshfields down to fifth.
Acquisitions Monthly editor Philip Healey predicted that City firms would earn record fees of around £400m this year. He noted the absence of regional firms from the top 15 "which indicates that, irrespective of size, the Square Mile continues to dominate".
The table includes advisers to financial advisers as well as companies. Separate them out and Clifford Chance, with its investment bank client base, comes top as adviser to financial advisers, while Linklaters & Paines heads the table of advisers to companies.
Ashursts' head of company and commercial, Geoffrey Green, put the firm's rise in the past two years down to a deliberate decision to set up a group of partners within the company department whose duty was to concentrate on developing relationships with financial advisers. "Many of the companies we have acted for lately instructed us on the recommendation of our financial adviser clients," he said.
Merchant banks sometimes told companies, particularly if they were involved in a large transaction that required the raising of capital, to instruct a top three or top five City firm instead of the regional firm they generally used, he said.