Clifford Chance’s £279bn M&A deals steer it to top spot in global rankings

CLIFFORD Chance has claimed first place in the global rankings for M&A league tables for the first time, with $490bn (£279.08bn) worth of completed deals coming from 444 announced transactions.

The firm’s success was helped by a return to the top of the European league tables for 2005 with 286 deals, cracking the €300bn (£206.48bn) barrier and bumping Link-laters from the top spot and down to third, below Fresh-fields Bruckhaus Deringer.

But Clifford Chance’s European edge over rival Linklaters was reversed in the UK market as it slipped to third spot and under the €100bn (£68.85bn) mark with 104 deals, whereas Linklaters completed €122bn (£84bn) worth of deals with 110 transactions.

Freshfields was wedged between the two in both the overall Europe and UK-specific tables, completing 251 deals worth €257.3bn (£177.2bn) overall and 104 deals worth €100.5bn (£69.21bn) in the UK.

Clifford Chance global head of corporate Peter Charlton said: “It’s a nice way to start the New Year, but it also gives us a benchmark to try to attain for 2006. The signs are that [the resurgence in M&A activity] is going to last for at least the first half of 2006. We want more in the US. It’s a big market and we’re relatively small, [but] we’re the strongest M&A firm there in terms of global firms. Our real strength remains in Europe.”

Clifford Chance had roles on four of 2005’s five biggest European deals, including advising Endesa on its €22.5bn (£15.5bn) defence against the hostile takeover bid by Gas Natural.

It advised Telefonica on its €15.3bn (£10.54bn) takeover of mobile phone company O2, as well as JPMorgan in UniCredito Italiano’s landmark €15.4bn (£10.61bn) bid for German bank HypoVereinsbank. The firm also advised JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley in Goal Acquisitions’ €10.8bn (£7.44bn) deal with Allied Domecq.

Around Europe, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton shot to the top of the league tables in Italy on the back of its work on UniCredito Italiano’s HypoVereinsbank bid.

Cleary’s revival has been led by partner Roberto Casati, who joined the firm from Allen & Overy in 2004. It also had a key role on ABN Amro’s €7.6bn (£5.23bn) takeover of Banca Antonveneta.

In Germany, Freshfields maintained its position at the head of the tables, while in France Linklaters advised on 57 deals worth €75.6bn (£53.08bn) in 2005, ahead of Clifford Chance, which worked on 49 transactions worth €68.5bn (£47.17bn).

European data was provided by Mergermarket, while Thomson Financial collated the global figures.

Advisers (by value) for announced European transactions, 1 January 2005-22 December 2005
2005 Y/E 2004 Firm Value (€bn) Value (£bn) No of deals
1 2 Clifford Chance 306.07 210.49 286
2 4 Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer 272.97 187.73 253
3 1 Linklaters 257.34 176.98 251
4 3 Sullivan & Cromwell 189.80 130.53 55
5 6 Allen & Overy 167.01 114.86 216
6 14 Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton 158.58 109.06 84
7 7 Skadden 126.18 86.77 71
8 22 Simpson Thacher & Bartlett 103.29 71.03 30
9 11 Baker & McKenzie 97.98 67.38 129
10 36 White & Case 93.21 64.1 139
 
Source: Mergermarket

Advisers (by value) for announced UK transactions, 1 January 2005-22 December 2005
2005 Y/E 2004 Firm Value (€bn) Value (£bn) No of deals
1 2 Linklaters 122.08 83.96 110
2 4 Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer 100.57 69.16 104
3 1 Clifford Chance 97.25 66.88 104
4 3 Slaughter and May 64.62 44.44 69
5 6 Ashurst 60.96 41.92 76
6 5 Allen & Overy 53.13 36.54 105
7 7 Sullivan & Cromwell 45.71 31.44 21
8 9 Herbert Smith, Gleiss Lutz, Stibbe 42.64 29.33 50
9 18 Skadden 37.27 25.63 26
10 8 Davis Polk & Wardwell 29.88 20.55 10
 
Source: Mergermarket