Clifford Chance takes Linklaters’ crown in corporate rankings

Clifford Chance has knocked Linklaters off the top spot in annual European M&A activity, gaining the number one position in the MergerMarket league tables for the first time.

The Canary Wharf-based magic circle firm leapfrogged corporate heavyweight Linklaters after notching up 216 deals worth a total €1.6bn (£1.1bn) during 2003.

Linklaters, in second place, acted on 202 transactions valued at €1.3bn (£91m)

In a further boost Clifford Chance also took pole position in Thomson Financial’s research for 2003 monitored M&A deals with a European target.

In the past Clifford Chance has benefited from an artificial boost in the rankings from deals where the firm has advised on anti-trust but not M&A issues.

The biggest European M&A deal this year saw the firm advise General Electric on the anti-trust implications its £5.8bn acquisition of Amersham but Slaughter and May take the main corporate role.

Clifford Chance’s chief operating officer and global head of corporate David Childs conceded that the firm’s league table performance had been boosted by anti-trust advice, particularly in the US but said, “We’ve seen less of that in 2003,” adding: “Doing the anti-trust work is a major role.”

Childs attributed the firm’s performance to a maturing European network with offices such as Paris, Madrid and Frankfurt gaining greater share of the local M&A market.

He also said that the firm’s highly-rated private equity practice had been a key advantage in a year where private equity has dominated the deals tables.

MergerMarket European Announced M&A Deals
Y/E Dec 2002 2003 Law Firm Value (€m) No of deals
2 1 Clifford Chance 163,057 216
1 2 Linklaters 134,975 202
3 3 Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer 118,602 161
10 4 Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom 88,029 68
4 5 Allen & Overy 81,790 157
12 6 Sullivan & Cromwell LLP 77,662 34
9 7 Slaughter and May 63,911 83
18 8 Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP 63,582 56
20 9 Davis Polk & Wardwell 57,695 31
5 10 Shearman & Sterling LLP 52,412 64