Slaughter and May retains FTSE100 crown

Slaughter and May has more than 50 per cent more FTSE100 clients than its nearest competitor Linklaters, while Clifford Chance languishes in tenth place, with just four FTSE100 clients.

Slaughters advises almost a third of the FTSE100 with 32 clients, compared with Linklaters in second place, which has 20, according to research conducted by Hemscott Group.

A survey of 2,400 listed companies, including those on AIM, has shown that Ashurst has made a splash, taking first place from Slaughters for the first time on the chart of law firms with the highest number of clients across the whole stockmarket.

Ashurst can thank a number of client wins in recent months for its elevation to pole position. New listed corporate clients include Abbey, African Copper, Allergy Therapeutics, Babcock, BioFusion, Phytopharm and Reuters. Its slip down the charts when it comes to ranking clients by market capitalisation or FTSE100 companies is unsurprising.

Ashurst corporate partner Adrian Clarke said: “The focus at Ashurst is on getting new clients. Whether it happens to be FTSE or AIM companies, it doesn’t matter to us. The more the better.”

Ashurst’s FTSE100 clients are also spread fairly evenly between the firm’s leading corporate partners. James Perry is the client partner for Man Group and Royal & SunAlliance, but Chris Ashworth, Clarke, Charlie Geffen, James Gubbins, Michael Johns, David Kershaw and Edward Sparrow all represent FTSE100 companies too.

Linklaters only warrants sixth place when ranked by sheer volume of stockmarket clients, but those that it does have are heavyweights. It may trail Slaughters by 12 FTSE100 companies, but the market capitalisation of its stock exchange clients is £484bn. Clients such as Anglo American, BP, BT, Rio Tinto and Vodafone drag Linklaters £126bn clear of Slaughters when ranking clients by total market capitalisation.

Linklaters corporate stars David Cheyne and David Barnes tend to around a third of the firm’s FTSE100 clients. Cheyne is the client relationship partner for Allied Domecq, BP, GUS and Vodafone, while David Barnes handles BT and J Sainsbury.

Nigel Boardman remains Slaughters’ kingpin, with some responsibility for eight of the firm’s 32 FTSE100 clients. David Johnson, Martin Hattrell and Martin Whelton also have significant FTSE100 client bases.

Clifford Chance’s poor showing on both charts will shock many. While the firm is traditionally known for its strong M&A practice for investment banks such as Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch, as well as its stellar private equity practice, Clifford Chance has not made the same inroads into the FTSE100 as magic circle rivals Linklaters and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. Even Allen & Overy (A&O), its strongest rival for the banks’ M&A work, scooped 15 FTSE100 clients compared with Clifford Chance’s four.

A firm spokesperson responded: “Clifford Chance has acted for 30 FTSE100 companies in the last year.”

It is worth making a note about the research here. Hemscott’s client lists are sent to the law firms and then confirmed by the clients themselves. A score of one point is awarded for a sole advisory role and half a point if the client has a number of corporate advisers.

While pouring scorn on Hemscott’s research is an unreliable argument,

FTSE100 clients
Rank Firm No of clients
1 Slaughter and May 32
2 Linklaters 20
3 Freshfields 19
4 Allen & Overy 15
5 Ashurst 11
6 Herbert Smith 11
7 Addleshaw Goddard 7
8 SJ Berwin 6
9 Eversheds 6
10 Clifford Chance 4
  Source: Hemscott Group

Firm rankings by clients’ total market capitalisation
Ranking Adviser NTotal market cap (£bn)
1 Linklaters 484.29
2 Slaughter and May 358.04
3 Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer 230.28
4 Allen & Overy 134.63
5 Norton Rose 119.17
6 Herbert Smith 93.61
7 Ashurst 92.99
8 Dundas & Wilson 55.20
9 Lovells 51.31
10 Addleshaw Goddard 51.12
  Source: Hemscott Group