Bird & Bird’s continued international expansion has laid the foundations for another year of increased global turnover.
In reporting a 10 per cent rise for 2011-12 – up to £235m – chief executive David Kerr said the firm’s high-end expertise and industry sector focus had lead to growth in each of its 23 offices across 16 countries.
This aggressive international strategy appears to be paying off, but what do the figures tell us?
Data from Thomson Reuters on 90 merger and acquisition deals over the past five years reveal some interesting trends on where Bird & Bird are making snapping up the money-spinning work.
One key observation to be drawn from the available data is that Bird & Bird’s global scope enables them to pick up M&A instructions in most regions.
The majority of its roles (63 from 90 specified in the data) have been on the acquisition side, advising companies pursuing buyouts of rivals or capitalising on growth opportunities in the telecommunications, financials, energy, consumer products, energy, materials, industrials and media sectors.
However, Europe is the stronghold for the firm, with exactly two thirds of the corporate deals they were involved in between 2008 and 2012 handled by their offices on the continent.
Of the 60 European transactions, Bird & Bird’s Finnish and French bases were particularly powerful players.
The Helsinki office has Matti Yla-Mononen leading its corporate team and was involved in 13 recorded transactions, including TMT deals for the likes of Nokia and several consumer product deals with professional services acquisitions
The French teams in Paris and Lyon, with Arnaud Larrousse co-head of the corporate group in France and Bertrand Biette co-head of the International Corporate Restructuring & Insolvency Group, acted on 17 deals, split between industrials, TMT and consumer products.
To put it into context, there were 13 deals led by the UK M&A practice, led by UK corporate head Neil Blundell, where Bird & Bird is headquartered. The firm also played a part in 10 transactions where either the target or the acquiror was based in the US – despite not having an American presence.
The Thomson Reuter data only provides the value of just under half of the transactions, but some of the major buyouts hint at Bird & Bird’s strength in TMT and energy.
In February 2008, Bird & Bird was one of the firms instructed for the US private equity fund Hellman & Friedman’s $2bn acquisition of Getty Images.
And in September 2009, the firm was amongst several UK-US teams advising an investor group in the States, led by Silver Lake, on a $2bn purchase of 70 per cent of Skype.
The firm also played a role, again on the acquisition side, as Gibraltar-based PartyGaming PLC merged with Bwin Interactive Entertainment in a $675m reverse takeover which created one of the world’s biggest publicly traded online gambling companies.
Top five non-tech deals
1 Advising for Belgian insurance and banking firm Ethias SA on its $2bn deal with and investor group in October 2008
2 Advising for Keele Oy’s $640m purchase of Shell’s refining and marketing businesses in Finland and Sweden in October 2010.
3 Advised on the acquisition side as a Netherlands-centred banking syndicate of investors bought 100 per cent of shares for $408m in a liquid natural gas (LNG) storage and regasification terminal in Mexico in September 2011.
4 Advised Spanish energy company Enagas SA in its $352m purchase of 40 per cent of BG Group’s equity interest in liquid natural gas terminal (LNG) owner and operator GNL Quintero SA, in Chile.
5 Advised British-based investor 3i in its $205m secondary buyout of German petrochemical company DC DruckChemie in May 2008.
Bird & Bird’s global footprint and sector-led strategy brings them into contact with a range of other firms on deals – from domestic specialist players to the magic circle.
However, from the 36 out of 90 recorded deals over five years in which it has jointly advised, it has worked with 32 different firms.
Twice Bird & Bird linked up with US firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett – on its biggest $2bn plus deals involving Skype and Getty.