According to figures released by Candover detailing its major deals for last year, Ashursts – one of the venture capitalist's main firms – failed to act on any transactions.
Most of the work went to Clifford Chance and Travers Smith Braithwaite. One industry source says that historically Ashursts could be expected to notch up between £1-2m a year in fees from Candover, one of its longest-standing clients.
However it is believed that in 1999, Clifford Chance reaped nearly £3m-worth of fees on deals including the £194m purchase of Charter Plc and the £547m public to private buyout of Clondalkin Group.
Clifford Chance also acted for Candover on its failed attempt to buy food giant Hillsdown Holdings, which lost out to US private equity group Hicks Muse Tate & Furst.
Travers Smith Braithwaite is also thought to have hit the jackpot, with deals including the £135m public to private buyout of Hall Engineering (Holdings) and the £183m management buy-in of Earl's Court and Olympia.
Although Ashursts had been engaged at the early stages of some of Candover's deals, Merrick Gumienny, joint managing director at Candover, says: "Some deals come off and some don't, some firms are lucky and some are not."
Adam Signy, M&A partner at Clifford Chance, says: "I think there is always a large number of deals, it just depends on what comes to fruition."
Chris Hale, head of private equity at Travers Smith Braithwaite, says: "It has been an unusually buoyant year for these types of deals."
Ashursts was unavailable for comment.