Skadden stars secure top two places in M&A tables

Skadden stars secure top two places in M&A tables” />As first reported on www.thelawyer. com last Tuesday (10 January), Simpson topped Mergermarket’s 2005 pan-European league table by value of individual lawyers, advising on nine deals worth €70.63bn (£52.36bn) during 2005. Meanwhile, Hatchard took the number two spot after advising on 11 transactions totalling €70.7bn (£48.31bn).

The duo advised on a string of high-profile M&A transactions during the past 12 months, including acting for new client Swedish insurer Skandia in connection with Old Mutual’s £3.3bn hostile offer to acquire all of the shares of Skandia. Scott and Simpson also successfully defended South African miner Gold Fields against a takeover by rival Harmony. Additionally, the pair’s role acting for Deutsche Bank, Citigroup and JPMorgan, the financial advisers to Endesa in its defence against a hostile €22.6bn (£15.45bn) bid from Gas Natural, has helped them to move up the rankings: it was the largest announced M&A deal of 2005. It therefore comes as no surprise that Linklaters Spanish partner Alejandro Ortiz, who scooped the number three spot, also worked on the Gas Natural-Endea transaction.

Ortiz, who joined the magic circle firm last summer, came third after advising on 13 deals valued at €57.66bn (£39.39bn).

Commenting on Skadden’s unrivalled success in the M&A arena, Simpson says: “There’s no single reason why we’re so successful. We have a tremendous client base in the US. We have a strong brand and a strong partnership.

“To a certain extent, these individual league tables are misleading. We’re placed well because of the strength of the partnership as a whole.”

Skadden makes no secret about the fact that a large chunk of the deals the firm’s London office handles are as a result of referrals from New York.

“While we target new opportunities in Europe, we enjoy a large client base in the US and we seek to serve those clients as they expand in Europe,” says Hatchard.

Sullivan & Cromwell corporate partner Garth Bray, who topped the individual partner value table for the period 1 July 2004-30 June 2005, failed to make the top 10 in the 2005 table (by value). Nevertheless, he took the number eight position in the volume table, which was topped by Linklaters Paris-based partner Michel Frieh, who advised on 17 deals valued at €3.16bn (£2.16bn).

It was a good year for France’s M&A lawyers, who dominate top 10 legal advisers by volume. Frieh joined Linklaters from Willkie Farr & Gallagher in May 2004. Incredibly, all of the leading French rainmakers who feature in the charts have switched firms in the past two years.

Private equity star Thomas Forschbach took a team of six lawyers from Ashurst to Latham & Watkins in September 2004; he takes sixth place on Mergermarket’s volume chart with 12 deals worth €4.48bn (£3.06bn).

Weil Gotshal & Manges‘ David Aknin left Linklaters at the tail-end of 2003 and sneaked in ahead of Forschbach with 12 deals worth €5.34bn (£3.65bn).

Scott Simpson

US partner Scott Simpson moved to Skadden’s City arm in 1990 and is no stranger to big-ticket M&A deals. During the course of 2005, Simpson handled a string of high-profile deals. Most notably, he was brought in alongside Michael Hatchard by Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan as special US counsel to Gold Fields in its successful defence against a takeover by rival Harmony. Simpson’s reputation in M&A also earned him a place in this year’s The Lawyer Hot 100.

Michael Hatchard

A lateral hire from Theodore Goddard in 1994, Michael Hatchard is one of Europe’s leading rainmakers specialising in corporate finance. Fellow Skadden partner Scott Simpson says: “There’s probably no UK-qualified M&A lawyer who comes close to combining UK and US M&A expertise in the way Michael does.” In 2005, Hatchard’s deals included advising Skype Technologies on its takeover by eBay and Honeywell’s $2.4bn (£1.35bn) bid for Melrose Nova.

Top 10 individual legal advisers in 2005 – Europe
Rank Name House Value (€bn) Value(£bn) No of deals
1 Scott Simpson Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom 76.63 52.36 9
2 Michael Hatchard Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom 70.70 48.31 11
3 Alejandro Ortiz Linklaters 57.66 39.39 13
4 Armando Albarran Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer 51.80 35.39 4
5 Joseph Frumkin Sullivan & Cromwell 51.39 35.11 3
6 Joaquin Hervada Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer 50.20 34.30 5
7 Fernando Bautista Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer 50.20 34.30 4
8 Alan Klein Simpson Thacher & Bartlett 50.06 34.20 3
9 Filippo Modulo Chiomenti Studio Legale 49.61 33.90 6
10 Francisco-Enrique
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton 49.14 33.58 2
Source: Mergermarket