Freehill Hollingdale comes top in Australian M&A table

Freehill Hollingdale & Page has emerged as the leading firm for Australian merger and acquisitions work, according to Thomson Financial Securities Data tables.

The firm has beaten leading practices Allens Arthur Robinson Group and Mallesons Stephen Jaques to the top spot, working on deals worth over AU$32.7bn (£13bn) during 1999.

UK firms are also included in the tables, in particular City giant Slaughter and May, which has always stayed resolutely independent of international alliances, with very few foreign offices.

Slaughters and Gouldens have been ranked sixth and seventh respectively for a table of deals made for Australian targets.

Herbert Smith and Norton Rose are ranked 21st and 22nd respectively on the main table.

Slaughters' head of corporate Nigel Boardman says the practice has close relationships with a number of firms, particularly Allens Arthur Robinson, Mallesons and Freehills.

He adds: “We get referrals from the Australian firms or there is an industry specialisation that is particularly suitable for us.”

Thomsons' has reported a record year for Australian M&A. Deals worth in excess of AU$60bn (£22.5bn) are reported for 1999, 10 per cent up on last year.

Freehill Hollingdale's national executive chairman Peter Hay says the firm's position in the tables reflects the amount of work currently available.

He explains: “Our lead is largely a result of our activity in the finance, energy and telecommunications sectors, in which we have had a consistent involvement.”

Hay remains unconcerned about the presence of UK firms. “We have consistently maintained a leading position against other [domestic] firms as well as competing successfully against the international firms in this area.”

Other firms in the top 10 include Blake Dawson Waldron, Minter Ellison and US practice Coudert Brothers.