Freshfields ranks 17th, while Norton Rose sees off competitors to come fourth
European M&A results for the first quarter see Linklaters take the top rung, while rival Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer comes in 17th. However, the shock positioning in the new tables from Thomson Financial is Norton Rose, which in fourth position is ranked above a number of its competitors, including Slaughter and May and Allen & Overy (A&O), which are ranked seventh and eighth respectively. Norton Rose corporate finance partner Laurence Levy said: "We have more [deals] coming through from France and Germany, and there will be more coming through later in the year. It's not just London now - this is evidence of our European network coming together." In the last quarter, Norton Rose advised Siemens on its e6.8bn (£4.2bn) acquisition of Atecs Mannesmann, and TXU on its £1.3bn sale of Eastern Electricity to London Electricity and 24Seven. Simmons & Simmons and Lovells, on the other hand, are noticeable by their absence. Herbert Smith is also surprisingly low down the table considering its current high profile on the Royal Caribbean and Carnival Group bids for P&O Princess, and Shell's takeover offer for Enterprise Oil. But given that Carnival has not closed and Shell closed at the beginning of April and is therefore not included in the table, it is likely that Herbert Smith will move up the rankings later in the year. According to Linklaters corporate partner Jeremy Marriage, because M&A deals are currently harder to find, the results emphasise a firm's ability to respond to difficult market conditions. "While M&A deals in London are in short supply, it has been busier in other jurisdictions, especially France and Germany," he said. "In this kind of market it is the firms with a more Continental spread that come to the fore." However, Slaughters head of corporate Nigel Boardman said that in a distressed M&A market, tables will inevitably contain a number of surprises. "A firm that isn't expected to top the tables in M&A, but which closes a single deal, will suddenly whizz up in ranking, and you see one or two deals push people to the top," he said. The biggest deal to close this quarter was the RWE's e8.5bn (£5.2bn) bid for Innogy. The companies are being advised by A&O and Linklaters respectively.