Deals comment

The dark cloud appears to have lifted from Richard Cranfield’s (left) corporate team at Allen & Overy (A&O). The firm is advising Alliance UniChem on its £7bn merger with Boots (, 3 October). This is the first M&A deal A&O has advised Alliance UniChem on and is one of the biggest public M&A deals it has handled in recent years.

A&O landed the mandate because Slaughter and May, which is retained by both Boots and Alliance UniChem, accepted the Boots mandate (see column, above). Indeed, this is the second time this year A&O has benefited from conflicts at Slaughters. In May it advised Iceland’s Kaupthing Bank on its $1bn (£570m) takeover of UK bank Singer & Friedlander.

The revival of A&O’s corporate practice is also reflected in Thomson Financial’s latest M&A tables. It jumped from sixteenth to third in Thomson’s third quarter M&A league table for announced deals, after advising on 173 deals totalling $178.39bn (£101.12bn). Meanwhile, Clifford Chance and Linklaters have taken the number one and number two spots respectively. Clifford Chance advised on 241 deals totalling $235.5bn (£133.49bn), while Linklaters acted on 168 transactions worth $214.2bn (£121.42bn).

However, A&O has slipped from sixth position to seventh according to Mergermarket’s European M&A league table for announced deals for the same period. According to Mergermarket’s rankings, A&O handled 150 deals totalling €73.7bn (£49.92bn).

The discrepancies highlight the perennial problem of the order of the top 20 differing quite dramatically depending on how you slice and dice law firms’ involvement in the M&A market, and the tables you look at.

Either way, Cranfield is happy with the league table results. “M&A deal values in Europe during the third quarter approached levels close to those of 1999-2000 thanks to encouraging equity and debt markets,” he said. “It’s been a very busy period for us.”

So A&O corporate partners should be satisfied with their efforts. They have secured enough deals to build on their cross-border corporate capability in Europe – something that was doubted just six months ago.