Main M&A surveys agree on the firms – but not the order

Just like the January sales, the publication of M&A league
tables seem to come earlier every year.

Lawyers just love their statistics, and with the Bloomberg, Mergermarket and Thomson Financial tables out already, there are more stats than you can shake a stick at.

The problem is, depending on how you slice and dice law firms’ involvement in the M&A market, it seems you can order the top 20 pretty much as you like.

Take, as an extreme example, the UK announced deals tables of the two leading information providers, Thomson and Mergermarket, and the top 20 are poles apart.

The most obvious reason for the discrepancy is that, while Thomson has included the Royal Dutch-Shell restructuring, Mergermarket does not classify it as an M&A deal.

The deal was worth more than £100m in total. Consequently, two of the firms most involved with it – Cravath Swaine & Moore and Slaughter and May – are right at the top of the Thomson table, but less well placed in Mergermarket’s. In fact, Cravath does not even feature in the top 20 in the latter’s table.

“It’s a remarkable thing how many people can be at the top at the same time,” said Linklaters’ David Cheyne, whose firm came top of Mergermarket’s European M&A tables.

However, both Cheyne and Clifford Chance chief operating officer David Childs, whose firm tops Mergermarket’s UK M&A tables, agree that it is important to be up at the top over the longer term.
Childs said: “It’s crucial to be seen in the top three or four in the main tables, even though it’s a bit of a lottery.”

Nigel Boardman at Slaughters, who advised on the Shell deal, predictably applauded Thomson’s decision to include the firm in its statistics.

However, he warned: “If there’s two people trying to assess the same thing and providing dramatically different pictures, it’s to the discredit of the league tables.”

A spokesperson for Thomson said: “There are methodological differences.” A Mergermarket spokesperson commented: “The differences are due to different criteria. We don’t include restructurings.”

UK target or acquirer – announced deals 2004
Rank 2003 Rank 2004 Law Firm Rank Value $bn (£bn) No. of deals
3 1 Slaughter and May 29.47 (15.65) 62
10 2 Shearman & Sterling 91.33 (48.5) 21
81 3 Cravath Swaine & Moore 87.08 (46.24) 5
2 4 Linklaters 68.40 (36.32) 90
1 5 Clifford Chance 60.56 (32.16) 89
14 6 Davis Polk & Wardwell 33.90 (18.00) 12
13 7 Sullivan & Cromwell 31.78 (16.87) 13
6 8 Allen & Overy 29.04 (15.42) 70
22 9 Lovells 24.98 (13.26) 33
5 10 Ashurst 24.26 (12.88) 78
11 11 Cleary Gottlieb 22.49 (11.94) 15
91 12 Uría & Ménéndez 22.44 (11.92) 8
4 13 Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer 21.92 (11.64) 48
23 14 Simpson Thacher & Bartlett 21.90 (11.63) 13
7 15 Jones Day 19.74 (10.48) 81
15 16 A&L Goodbody 18.95 (10.06) 22
16 17 Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom 16.52 (8.77) 16
18 18 CMS 16.04 (8.52) 37
9 19 Herbert Smith, Gleiss Lutz, Stibbe 15.77 (8.37) 32
75 20 Watchell Lipton Rosen & Katz 15.53 (8.25) 2
 
Source: Thomson

Transactions in the UK over €5m 1 Jan 2004-22 Dec 2004
Rank 2003 Rank 2004 Law Firm Rank Value €bn (£bn) No. of deals
2 1 Clifford Chance 63.60 (33.77) 111
1 2 Linklaters 60.61 (32.18) 107
4 3 Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer 46.83 (24.87) 86
3 4 Slaughter and May 44.58 (23.67) 69
8 5 Allen & Overy 42.05 (22.33) 82
5 6 Ashurst 38.06 (20.21) 96
6 7 Sullivan & Cromwell 33.97 (18.04) 12
15 8 Davis Polk & Wardwell 28.20 (14.97) 15
10 9 Herbert Smith, Gleiss Lutz, Stibbe 26.82 (14.24) 45
14 10 Lovells 25.61 (13.60) 47
20 11 Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton 22.69 (12.05) 20
12 12 Shearman & Sterling 22.08 (11.72) 25
21 13 Norton Rose 21.28 (11.30) 50
11 14 CMS 20.89 (11.09) 48
22 15 Simpson Thacher & Bartlett 19.32 (10.26) 14
9 16 Weil Gotshal & Manges 18.99 (10.08) 26
78 17 Uría & Ménéndez 18.67 (9.91) 10
7 18 Jones Day 16.20 (8.60) 58
13 19 Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom 14.75 (7.83) 18
30 20 Simmons & Simmons 13.41 (7.12) 30
 
Source: Mergermarket