William Fry, Arthur Cox shine in corporate as they fight it out at top of mergermarket tables

The corporate teams at leading firms Arthur Cox and William Fry battled it out for the top spot of mergermarket’s third quarter tables this month.

The firms exchanged positions in the deals by volume table, with William Fry taking over the top position from rival Arthur Cox. William Fry advised on nine deals, with a combined value of e832m (£580.8m), compared with Arthur Cox’s eight deals, with a value of e886m (£618.5m). The positions were reversed in the deals by value list.

Arthur Cox’s strong year in corporate included its role acting for Cadbury Schweppes in the acquisition of certain operations of Pfizer, which had a global value of $4.2bn (£2.51bn); acting for Agere Systems in the $26.2m (£15.7m) acquisition of Massana; and acting for the Musgrave Group in the acquisition and spin-off of a chain of supermarkets.

The biggest jump came from Matheson Ormsby Pre-ntice, which took third place in both tables. The firm swept up the deals by value league from last year’s 26th spot with eight deals, totalling e765m (£534m). Highlights included a leading involvement in the take privates of both River-deep and Arnotts (across the table from William Fry), with e376.3m (£262.7m) and e250m (£174.5m) respectively, and acting for Ryanair on its acquisition of budget airline Buzz from Dutch carrier KLM.

A new entrant, and the only UK-based firm to make the list, was Simmons & Simmons, which hit the fifth spot with a combined deal value of e693m (£483.8m). This included the e646m (£450.9m) acquisition of Cementbouw Handel & Industrie Holdings by Simmons client, construction company CRH. Jean-Pierre Van Leeuwe in the Rotterdam office led the deal, with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer acting for Cementbouw.

Ireland league table (by value) of legal advisers on transactions above €5m, 1 January-30 September 2003
2002 2003 Firm Value €m/£m No of deals
2 1 Arthur Cox 886/618.5 8
3 2 William Fry 832/580.8 9
26 3 Matheson Ormsby Prentice 765/534 8
18 4 A&L Goodbody 751/524.2 3
n/a 5 Simmons & Simmons 693/483.8 2
Source: mergermarket

Ireland league table (by volume) of legal on transactions in Ireland above €5m, 1 January-30 September 2003
2002 2003 Firm Value €m/£m No of deals
2 1 William Fry 832/580.8 9
1 2 Arthur Cox 886/618.5 8
7 3 Matheson Ormsby Prentice 765/534 8
6 4 Mason Hayes & Curran 282/196.9 4
3 5 A&L Goodbody 751/524.23
Source: mergermarket