Linklaters leapfrogs to top of Spanish deals table as domestic firms tumble

After a busy first quarter, Linklaters emerged as the leading firm in the Spanish M&A marketplace, climbing from fifteenth place to first in Thomson Financial’s European rankings for completed deals.

The firm’s biggest deal was the creation of the first pan-European real estate company when it advised Metrovacesa on its €8.57bn (£5.87bn) purchase of Gecina, advised by Sullivan & Cromwell.

Miles Curley, managing partner of the Madrid office, said: “A number of our transactions had a private equity component, which we’ve built up by bringing in excellent lawyers.” The firm advised on the following acquisitions: Nmas1 Capital Privado’s €206m (£141.1m) purchase of Cadyssa and Iberdroper; Amadeus on its €60m (£41.1m) buyout of Karavel SA; and Advent on the acquisition of Aldeasa, Spain’s leading duty free retail company.

Clifford Chance and Sullivan & Cromwell retained their high rankings and Baker & McKenzie (B&M) rose from fourteenth place to fourth.

Concerning the reasons behind his firm’s success, Rafael Jimenez-Gusi, head of M&A at B&M in Madrid, said: “Five years ago we were not established in the local market and were perceived solely as an international firm. We recruited Spanish lawyers and marketed ourselves to Spanish clients.”

Some of the firm’s larger deals included construction company FCC’s acquisition of a transport and logistics group, led by Maite Diez in the Madrid office; Zara owner Amancio Ortega’s €70m (£48m) acquisition of Basque automotive manufacturing company Illinois Tool Works; and Grand Vacation Co’s €75m (£51.4m) acquisition of a resort in the Canary Islands.

US firms Cravath Swaine & Moore, Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett and Winston & Strawn all enjoyed dramatic success: from not being ranked at all, they came in equal sixth. In announced M&A, Sullivan & Cromwell was ranked first and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer climbed from thirteenth place to fourth.

However, local Spanish firms did not fare so well. Cuatrecasas slipped from fifth place to fifteenth and Garrigues from first to sixth. The firms were not available for comment.

Any Spanish involvement completed 1 Jan-31 March 2005
Rank 2005(Q1) Rank 2004(Q1) Firm Rank value $bn Rank value £bn No of deals
1 15 Linklaters 2.86 1.53 4
2 4 Clifford Chance 2.81 1.50 6
3 2= Sullivan & Cromwell 2.24 1.19 1
4 14 Baker & McKenzie 1.99 1.06 3
5 Freehills 1.82 0.97 1
6= Winston & Strawn 1.52 0.81 1
6= Cravath Swain & Moore 1.52 0.81 1
6= 1 Garrigues 1.52 0.81 2
6= Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw 1.52 0.81 1
6= Simpson Thacher & Bartlett 1.52 0.81 1
Source: Thomson Financial