M&A Q4 2003: UK announced deals

In another difficult year for UK M&A, Linklaters has retained its position as the market leader by securing the top spot in the MergerMarket 2003 table for announced deals by value.

The year-end table also shows the increasing involvement of US firms in UK deals, with Weil Gotshal & Manges in particular shining.

Linklaters advised on 91 deals valued at €73.7bn (£51.67bn), according to the MergerMarket annual rankings.

Linklaters acted on some of the major deals of the year, including the £7bn acquisition by Capital Management & Investment of Intercontinental Hotels (formerly Six Continents) and the battle for Safeway.

Weil Gotshal, the highest ranking US firm, shot to sixth place, up from twentieth in the previous year. The firm advised on more than €26.4bn (£18.51bn) of deals, including acting for WestLB on its £431m acquisition of Odeon.

Commenting on his firm’s achievement, Mike Francies, head of Weil Gotshal’s London office, told The Lawyer: “We’re consistently the US firm in London doing the large UK deals. We obviously don’t have the resources or the numbers other firms have, but in terms of the deals we’re involved with, we’re very much part of the London M&A scene.”

Jones Day and Sullivan & Cromwell have also shot up the rankings. Jones Day has jumped from 38th place to seventh and Sullivan & Cromwell has risen from 25th to tenth.

Bradford firm Gordons Cranswick had a triumphant 2003. Thanks to its client WM Morrison’s bid for Safeway, the firm has debuted the league table by catapulting into seventeenth place.

Clifford Chance and Slaughter and May finished second and third respectively, as they did in 2002.

UK announced deals
2003 Year ended Dec 2002 Law Firm
1 1 Linklaters
2 2 Clifford Chance
3 3 Slaughter and May
4 6 Freshfields
5 4 Ashurst
6 20 Weil Gotshal & Manges
7 38 Jones Day
8 5 Allen & Overy
9 11 Herbert Smith/Gleiss/Stibbe
10 25 Sullivan & Cromwell
* Source: MergerMarket