European M&A dominated by US firms in Q1 2014 as market bounces back

The European M&A market has ballooned by more than a third in the first quarter of 2014 compared to the same period last year, with US firms dominating the rankings.

According to Thomson Reuters’ preliminary rankings for Q1 2014, the European market increased in value by more than 37 per cent on the first quarter of 2013, from $171.2bn to more than $234.7bn.

Globally, it rose by more than 39 per cent, jumping up from $485.5bn to $675.7bn. 

Simpson Thacher, Skadden, Weil Gotshal & Manges and Latham & Watkins took the top four spots in the quarters’ league tables by deal value, each advising on transactions worth more than $32.6bn. All four scooped a role on the biggest European M&A transaction of the period – Dublin-based drug maker Actavis’ $23.3bn acquisition of New York’s Forest Laboratories. 

On that deal, Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz, Simpson Thacher and Weil advised the target, while Latham & Watkins, Skadden, Fried Frank, Arthur Cox and Stikeman Elliot were instructed by the offeror. 

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s role advising Ziggo on its $10.5bn buyout by Liberty Global helped it steal fifth position, amounting a total deal value of $32.4bn between 21 different transactions (30 January 2014). Allen & Overy, which advised the target, was the only other UK firm to win a spot in the top 12. It worked on 31 transactions worth $14.8bn during the period.

DLA PiperLinklaters and Clifford Chance also featured in the top 25 firms during the quarter.

The five UK firms were flanked by a number of US-based outfits including Davis Polk & Wardwell and Mayer Brown. Ireland’s Arthur Cox and Nordic big-hitter Roschier also had a strong start to the year. 

Each of the top 25 firms saw an uptick in total European M&A deal value in the first quarter of 2014. Freshfields, which led the table last year, witnessed its deal value double from $16bn. Linklaters, Herbert Smith Freehills and Allen & Overy also won rankings in the top four in the first quarter of 2013.

Global M&A rankings, Q1 2014
Rank Legal adviser Ranking value inc. net debt of target (bn) Market share (%) Number of deals
1 Skadden 151.3 21.9 39
2 Simpson Thacher & Bartlett 119.4 17.3 32
3 White & Case 113.4 16.4 35
4 Davis Polk & Wardwell 102.2 14.8 31
5 Kirkland & Ellis 101.9 14.7 62
6 Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz 95.4 13.8 14
7 Paul Weiss 83.7 12.1 20
8 Willkie Farr & Gallagher 75.7 10.9 14
9 Weil Gotshal & Manges 66.2 9.6 25
10 Latham & Watkins 60.2 8.7 47
11 Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer 35.1 5.1 28
12 Sullivan & Cromwell 32.4 4.7 19
13 Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton 30.5 4.4 14
14 Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson 28.8 4.2 16
15 Sidley Austin 25.4 3.7 23
European M&A rankings, Q1 2014
Rank Legal adviser Ranking value inc. net debt of target (bn) Market share (%) Number of deals
1 Simpson Thacher & Bartlett 38.3 16.3 10
2 Skadden 36.1 15.3 9
3 Weil Gotshal & Manges 35.1 14.9 9
4 Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer 32.8 13.9 22
5 Latham & Watkins 32.8 13.9 25
6 Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson 25.9 11.0 6
7 Arthur Cox 25.1 10.7 4
8 Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz 24.6 10.5 2
9 Sullivan & Cromwell 21.4 9.1 8
10 Linklaters 19.3 8.2 22
11 Mayer Brown 18.3 7.8 8
12 Davis Polk & Wardwell 15.4 6.6 6
13 Allen & Overy 15.0 6.4 33
14 Roschier 14.8 6.3 3
15 DLA Piper 13.0 5.5 31

Source: Thomson Reuters            
Data correct as of 21 March 2014