While life in the world economy can be tough, those riding the M&A trail in 2012 have found that the market is not quite dead yet and there may even be grounds for cautious optimism.
The undoubted standout deal of the year so far is commodities trader Glencore’s blockbuster merger with mining company Xstrata, first reported as an $80bn (£51bn) transaction, but estimates since have been edging up towards the $90bn mark. While the deal may still stall, advisers Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Linklaters have already clocked up plenty of hours for their respective clients.
In the technology sphere, the merger of banking software duo Misys and Temenos commands top billing and has Allen & Overy, Herbert Smith and Swiss firm Homburger on board. While Kirkland & Ellis has snatched a role for a US private equity group that is hoping to muscle in on the deal.
Vodafone’s confirmed cash offer for Cable & Wireless Worldwide is understood to have also given roles to Herbert Smith and Linklaters.
Firms with global capacity are certainly helped at times like these, Linklaters managed to leverage its Asian connections to win the lead role for China Investment Corporation on its acquisition of a reported £500m stake in Thames Water parent company Kemble Water. Clifford Chance advised seller Santander.
DLA Piper capitalised on its Kuwait presence to win a mandate from the Kuwait Capital Markets Authority on the privatisation of the Kuwait Stock Exchange.
While Japan was the origin of the acquiror when Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation picked up RBS’s aviation unit, RBS Aviation Capital, for £4.7bn. US firm Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy won the buy-side mandate while Clifford Chance snatched the role for RBS.
With Facebook finally filing documents for its long-awaited stock exchange debut Fenwick & West advised the social media giant, while fellow US firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett acted for the underwriters and Simpson Thacher Palo Alto were named as the lawyers for the investment banks.
A vibrant deal market following the introduction of alternative business structures (ABSs) in the UK meant lawyers were keen to snatch roles acting for, or opposite, fellow practitioners.
The standout deal was the first-ever leveraged buyout of a law firm which saw SJ Berwin advise private equity house Duke Street on its investment in insurance firm Parabis Group, while Hogan Lovells advised banks RBS, Lloyds Banking Group, Santander and Ares on the deal.
In another ABS deal, LG and Macfarlanes were the chosen firms for listed Australian firm Slater & Gordon’s takeover of UK firm Russell Jones & Walker (RJW).