US firms eclipse rivals on corporate debt

US firms continue to dominate the European capital markets sector, with Simpson Thacher & Bartlett and Cahill Gordon & Reindel topping the international high-yield corporate debt deal rankings.

According to Thomson Financial’s European capital markets review, which ranks entries by deal size from the period 1 January to 30 September 2006, Simpson Thacher, representing the issuer, and Cahill, representing the manager, acted on international high-yield corporate debt deals worth $8bn (£4.22bn) and $13.07bn (£6.89bn) respectively.

Simpson Thacher, topping the table representing issuer work, worked on nine deals in the period, more than doubling the number recorded for the previous year. It has also more than doubled the value of its proceeds, from $3.9m (£2.06m) in 2005 to $8bn (£4.22bn) in 2006. And the year is not even over yet.

While Shearman & Sterling, acting for the manager, has not increased the number of deals it has worked on, the firm has seen a 292 per cent increase in deal proceeds, from $2.4bn (£1.3bn) to $9.35bn (£4.93bn).

Latham & Watkins features in the top five firms acting for both the issuer and the manager sides and storms in at second place on the manager side, having bagged 28 deals so far, with a value of $11.23bn (£5.92bn), topping the chart in terms of number of deals.

Latham corporate partner Bryant Edwards said: “We’ll see continued growth as there’s huge enthusiasm from the issuers, private equity houses, law firms and banks for this product at the moment.”

While US firms feature prominently, magic circle firms Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Linklaters and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, as well as Baker & McKenzie, remain strong players in the international high-yield corporate debt markets.

Head of Freshfields’ US corporate group Sarah Murphy said: “Banks still choose to use US firms on the manager side because they’re quite aggressive. Issuers tend to choose international firms as we offer advice that can’t be given directly by US firms.”