M&A Team of the Year

Lovells

2nd place: Eversheds, Manchester
3rd place: Allens Arthur Robinson
Shortlisted: Burges Salmon, Herbert Smith, Slaughter and May
The winner of the M&A Team of the Year Award, sponsored by ICC Information, is Lovells for its role in the highly complex reorganisation of the Granada Group and subsequent consolidation of ITV, led by head of corporate Hugh Nineham and a team of eight other partners. It involved the £18bn merger with Compass Group, effected by two simultaneous and interconditional schemes of arrangement, followed by the £1.5bn listing of Granada Media. After some particularly nimble thinking on the competition side, where the Competition Commission fell in almost entirely with Lovells' arguments, Granada Media was then able to negotiate with United News & Media for the acquisition of its media interests. Lovells deserves warm commendation for being able to mesh corporate, competition and tax in one very creative package.
In second place is Eversheds, Manchester, which has made an extraordinary leap forward over the past year. Years of groundwork have paid off, with the team of Edward Pysden, Daniel Hall and Peter Halpin acting on transactions totalling £2.5bn last year. Deals were abundant, though the £496m institutional buy-out of Caradon – a multijurisdictional transaction which consolidated Eversheds' relationship with HSBC Private Equity – would grace many a shortlist. Furthermore, complex disposal programmes for major corporates such as Coats Viyella and Anglo-American are object lessons in how to leverage off second-string adviser status. Eversheds' Manchester office has gained recognition not just for the work undertaken, but for the sheer hunger that has powered the firm up the league tables. The office has now become part of that select band of firms outside the City to work regularly on headline deals.
Third is Australia's Allens Arthur Robinson for its role on the BHP-Billiton merger, the largest ever corporate transaction in Australia at A$58bn (£21.2bn). Allens Arthur completed this by way of a dual-listed company structure, a structure that it originally developed for mining giant Rio Tinto in the mid-1990s. Allens Arthur's role this year put Australian lawyers on the map.