Slaughters rides takeover flurry to stay FTSE100 king

Slaughter and May

has retained its corporate crown despite falling victim to a frenzy of foreign takeovers of UK companies during the past three months.

According to research conducted by Hemscott Group, Slaughters advises more FTSE100 companies than any other firm.

Slaughters acts for 28 FTSE100 clients, followed by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Linklaters, which represent 21 FTSE100 clients each.

But Slaughters has recently lost major clients Abbey National and Exel after they were purchased by foreign companies. It also stands to lose FTSE100 client BOC, which has been bought by Germany’s Linde for £8.2bn.

Slaughters corporate partner Nigel Boardman told The Lawyer: “It’s noticeable that, since 2000, no UK companies have merged with overseas companies. However, the UK has been a target market for foreign companies.

“It’s not a bad thing because it encourages entrepreneurs to set up in business in the UK and the market will regenerate.

“We remain confident that the UK is a good place to be.”

With more FTSE100 companies identified as potential takeover targets by foreign companies, law firms such as Ashurst, Freshfields, Herbert Smith and Slaughters may have to scramble to keep their top five rankings in relation to volume of FTSE100 clients.

While Allen & Overy (A&O), Freshfields and Linklaters have made it into the top five, Clifford Chance languished in seventh position, advising seven FTSE100 clients.

Clifford Chance London managing partner Peter Charlton told The Lawyer that the firm had lost BPB as a result of the takeover by France’s Saint-Gobain, but had picked up work by Hammerson, Brambles and HSBC.

“We’ve jumped two spots from ninth, which we’re happy with,” he said. “But securing FTSE100 clients hasn’t been a priority for us. We’ve thrown the net much wider than that.”

Lovells has jumped two places to tenth position; however, it advises just four FTSE100 clients.

While Slaughters takes pole position in terms of the volume of FTSE100 clients, Linklaters is ranked number one in relation to market capital of FTSE100 clients, with £647bn. Slaughters comes in second with £368bn.

Meanwhile, the AIM bubble looks far from bursting, with law firms swooping on the boom in life sciences business listings. Eversheds advises 48 AIM clients – the biggest AIM client list of any firm, according to the latest figures released by Hemscott. Other firms in the top five include Pinsent Masons with 47 AIM clients, DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary with 43, Norton Rose with 42 and Halliwells with 40.

Eversheds has picked up five new clients during the past three months, including Company Health Group and online antibodies supplier Abcam.

The firm’s corporate head Neil Matthews said that, while mining, oil and gas initially drove the push for law firms to secure AIM clients, life sciences companies were emerging as the new AIM generation.

“Everyone keeps saying the bubble is going to burst any minute, but we’ve seen no evidence of that. More companies are listing on AIM, many of them pharmaceutical or health-related, and the outlook for next year is good. In fact, if our predictions are right, we’ll have a better year than ever next year,” said Matthews, adding: “Another trend has been hedge funds listing on AIM.”

Magic circle firms have not yet made their AIM presence felt, with next to no mentions in Hemscott’s charts.

Clifford Chance was the only magic circle firm to appear in the lower reaches of the market cap table, but A&O, Freshfields and Slaughters were nowhere to be seen.

Ashurst was the most prolific of the traditional City firms with 24 AIM clients and £3.6bn in market cap – almost double its recorded market cap of three months ago.