Simmons & Simmons, Freshfields and Herbert Smith were the winners last year in private company acquisitions, according to Acquisitions Monthly.
Freshfields has succeeded in ousting Slaughter and May from the number one slot in the league table. Slaughters moves from number one, where it had been for three years running, to number two. At number three is Herbert Smith, which was in eighth place last year, fourth is Linklaters & Paines, with Simmons & Simmons coming in fifth up from ninth in 1995.
All three big movers vastly increased their deal flow last year by their involvement with the railway leasing companies. Simmons acted with Pinsent Curtis for the buyout team that took control of Porterbrook Leasing for £527m, which was subsequently sold to Stagecoach for £825m. Freshfields advised Abbey National on its £1.4bn takeover of National and Provincial. Herbert Smith acted for the team that acquired Evershold Leasing for £580m.