Slaughters makes M&A comeback

Magic circle firms dominate the M&A rankings for the first half of this year, according to specialist website Slaughter and May pipped Linklaters & Alliance to the number one spot, with ‚minence grise Michael Pescod leading on two of the firm’s outstanding deals.

He advised Unilever on its £12bn takeover of Bestfoods and Glaxo Wellcome on its £48bn merger with Smith-Kline Beecham.

Fellow corporate partner Nigel Boardman was ranked first by volume of deals, having advised on no fewer than 11 transactions with a total value of some £38bn.

With its role for Robert Fleming on its £4.8bn takeover by Chase Manhattan, Slaughter and May continues to hold its own in corporate work.

Boardman says: “I don’t think the last six months is out of line with the general picture and it’s a long-term strategy of giving clients the service they want.

“Marketing doesn’t really make a difference. It’s word of mouth and delivering the goods.”

Linklaters also had a strong half-year, coming top for volume and second in terms of deal value. Star partner David Cheyne came eighth in the individuals’ value table with fellow partners Charles Allen Jones, Lucy Fergusson and Stephen Boughton in joint sixth place and Iain Fenn ending the table at number 10.

Freshfields has slipped down the table – rated top for both volume and value last year – managing only fifth and seventh place respectively this half-year.

Allen & Overy has kept its number three rating for volume and jumped from 12 to six for value – much of this bolstered by telecoms deals such as the sale of mobile licences by the Radio Communications Authority for £23bn. Partner Richard Cranfield came seventh in the value table of individuals.

Clifford Chance mustered a decent performance in volume terms, despite coming tenth in value. It came a comfortable second to Linklaters on volume, suggesting a steady deal flow. Corporate partner Adam Signy says: “There’s always been a myth among some City firms that we’re just a finance practice. Hopefully these statistics speak for themselves.”

Lovells failed to make the tables. According to the statistics, the firm is failing to keep up with fellow top 10 corporate practices. For volume, Lovells has moved up only two places to number 16 and for value up one place to 25. The firm’s seemingly fallow year coincides with the retirement of the well-respected Dan Mace, although he is still a consultant with the firm.

But a Lovells spokesperson blames the low league table rating on the fact that many of the firm’s big transactions are still in the pipeline. The firm is advising Granada on its £7bn media flotation and will almost certainly be involved on any bid Granada makes for either Carlton or United News & Media.