Freshfields wins top spot among UK firms in M&A rankings for the first half of 2014

Freshfields has swept the board in Thomson Reuters M&A rankings for the first half of 2014, coming top among all UK-based firms for global, European and UK-related M&A.

In the ranking of deals with UK involvement, Freshfields topped the charts by both value and volume – working on 41 transactions with a total value of $71.1bn. 

That sum is almost 50 per cent higher than the deal volume of the magic circle firm’s closest competitor during the period, Slaughter and May, which worked on 21 deals worth $36.2bn. 

A sizeable chunk of work for both of those firms came courtesy of advising Novartis on its $16bn acquisition of the GlaxoSmithKline’s oncology business. Freshfields advised Novartis on the deal, working in parallel with Allens. Meanwhile, Slaughters was instructed by the target, alongside Skadden and Blake Cassels & Graydon. 

Freshfields topped up its total by $10.9bn thanks to advising Dutch cable company Ziggo on its $10.9bn acquisition by Liberty Global. Freshfields advised the target, alongside Stibbe and Shearman & Sterling, while Simpson Thacher & Bartlett and Stibbe advised its financial advisers. The bidder instructed Allen & Overy, Loyens & Loeff and Ropes & Gray

Linklaters, Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, Clifford Chance and Allen & Overy are among the other firms to secure a spot in the top 10. 

Freshfields also shone at European level during the past six months, advising on 87 deals worth $193.2bn during the first half of 2014 – topping the charts by more than $61bn. Allen & Overy, Simpson Thacher and Blake Cassels & Graydon also won spots in the top five.

Freshfields is also the only UK-based firm to secure a spot in the top 10 firms for M&A worldwide, having worked on 105 transactions with a total value of $256.3bn.  The firm fell into third place behind Sullivan & Cromwell which advised on 50 deals worth $260.5bn, and Skadden which worked on 96 with a combined value of £376.8bn. 

Freshfields’ M&A chief Ben Spiers said that the strong results are partly due to the firm’s strong private equity and sovereign wealth fund practice, which is beginning to see an uptick in M&A activity following a repressed few years for the market. 

He added: “The key is staying close to your clients and looking after them to ensure they instruct you every time. We also work hard at expanding our client base and having such a strong track record obviously helps in that.  With stock markets up and plenty of debt available the environment is ripe for a continued good run of M&A over the coming months”.