For the first time in at least seven years, none of the magic circle firms has appeared in a list of the top 10 practices to advise on mergers and acquisitions, with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Allen & Overy slipping down the league table.
Freshfields fell from sixth to 12th place on Mergermarket’s 2019 global league table of legal advisers, with the total value of its deals falling by 27% to $307m. Meanwhile, Allen & Overy slipped from 10th to 16th place, with its deal value falling by almost 30% to $234m. Slaughter and May and Clifford Chance crept up the list – to 14thand 17th place respectively – while Linklaters did not appear anywhere in the top 20.
US firms have dominated the M&A league table for several years, but this is the first time since 2013 – when figures became available – that a magic circle firm has not been ranked among the top 10. Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, which operates from a single office in New York, topped the rankings, followed by Sullivan & Cromwell, which is also headquartered in New York.
According to the Mergermarket report, the US accounted for 47% of global M&A activity in 2019, the highest share since 2001. Meanwhile, Europe was ‘hampered by sluggish Eurozone growth’ and ‘suffered from a lack of big ticket deals’, reporting a 22% decrease in deal value to $750.5bn.
The report also says that China and Hong Kong’s market share shrunk to 8.8% in 2019 (down from 11.4%), blaming geopolitical tension between the US and China and six months of anti-Beijing protests.