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|
|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|
|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|
|9||19||Herbert Smith, Gleiss Lutz, Stibbe||15.77 (8.37)||32|
|75||20||Watchell Lipton Rosen & Katz||15.53 (8.25)||2|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|