The Work

January 26, 2012 5:22 PM

S&C, Skadden, Simpson, Wachtell Among Last Year's M&A Leaders

Posted by Brian Baxter

A review of three separate 2011 M&A rankings of legal advisers finds the usual suspects once again leading the way when it comes to which law firms were the most active in counseling corporate clients on cross-border deals, buyouts, and other transactions. 

The scorecards—produced by BloombergMergermarket, and Thomson Reuters—show Sullivan & Cromwell, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz outpacing their rivals in terms of total M&A deal value. 

As The Am Law Daily has previously reported, the three outlets rely on different metrics in compiling their year-end M&A league tables, meaning the lists' primary value lies in providing an overall picture of which firms are staying active in terms of corporate transactions, rather than in making year-over-year comparisons. 

S&C, Skadden, Simpson Thacher, and Wachtell were at the top of all three scorecards when considering deal value, with Magic Circle firms Linklaters and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer nipping at their heels. International behemoths such as Jones Day, DLA Piper, and Latham & Watkins, meanwhile, shine when it comes to overall deal volume.

Bloomberg, Mergermarket, and Thomson Reuters also provide regional and country-to-country tables to measure the performance of external legal advisers in various locales. While many Am Law 100 and Global 100 firms are well represented on those lists, other firms that mainly operate outside the United States also make their presence felt.

For instance, Canadian firm Blake, Cassels & Graydon, Japanese firm Mori Hamada & Matsumoto, and Australian firm Mallesons Stephen Jaques, which is set to merge with Chinese domestic legal giant King & Wood, earned spots at the lower end of the global legal M&A tier.

Bloomberg reports that last year's total global deal value of $2.3 trillion was 44 percent below the $4 trillion in deals announced in 2007 before the economic downturn hit. And despite concerns about Greek debt, the health of European banks, and a potential shakeout in private equity, some firms still expect M&A activity to increase this year.

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