Corporate Team of the Year

2nd place: Wragge & Co
3rd place: Linklaters & Alliance
Shortlisted: Latham & Watkins, Norton Rose, Rowe & Maw
The winner of the Corporate Team of the Year Award, sponsored by amLegal, is Clifford Chance, for having put clear blue water between it and its rivals in private equity.
The firm has advised on a veritable glut of deals, including: the complex $2.3bn (£1.62bn) leveraged buyout of Veba Electronics, where a team led by Matthew Layton advised Schroder Ventures; the £1bn buyout of Homebase; and advising KKR on the $1.175bn (£830.9m) acquisition of non-core chemical businesses from Laporte. The team of Layton, James Baird and Adam Signy have carried all before them over the past 12 months, and with a new generation of younger partners coming up, there is undoubted strength in depth. The only firm to act for the leading private equity houses – both US and UK – Clifford Chance's consolidation this year means that its magic circle rivals will have a job to catch up.
Second place goes to Wragge & Co, which has built up a hugely successful corporate practice from its Midlands base. Last year it completed 150 transactions with an aggregate value of more than £7.4bn, and the quality of its work has made it a competitor to all but the largest City firms. Two deals stand out: the £1.8bn recommended bid by Preussag for Thomson Travel Group and the £1.4bn institutional buyout of Rank Hovis MacDougall from Tomkins.
Third place goes to Linklaters & Alliance for its work on advising SmithKline Beecham on its £114bn merger with Glaxo Wellcome, the biggest all-British deal in corporate history and the largest ever merger between two UK-listed companies. Notification covered 12 different products across 73 affected markets, requiring the Linklaters team to acquaint itself with a dizzying array of complex pharmaceutical areas within a short space of time. The merger itself was crowned by Linklaters' achievement in getting European Union clearance within six weeks of filing.