US-headquartered law firms dominate the most recent global ranking of legal advisers on mergers and acquisitions, taking nine of the top 10 places for the first three quarters of the year.
Slaughter and May slipped from seventh place for the same period last year to 15th this year. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer improved its position to sixth, up from 12th in 2013.
The legal adviser tables provide a rough indication of corporate law firms’ relative financial performance at the exact point where deal values reached pre-financial crisis levels.
The rankings, based on Mergermarket’s quarterly analysis, show US-headquartered firms benefited from an Americas transactions market that substantially outperformed Europe and Asia-Pacific. The value of Americas deals was up 24% on the same period in 2013, taking the value of transactions to $1.106bn. Europe’s growth in transaction values, up 11% to $714bn, was less than half that.
US firms, the data confirms, are not just riding high on a domestic M&A boom. ‘Outbound’ M&A grew by 62%. Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom held first position, advising on 163 deals valued at $484.6bn – a 185% increase in deal value from 2013. Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton was in second place.
For European deals, four US-headquartered firms entered the top 10, rising between seven and 17 places.
Globally, UK-headquartered firms fared better in private equity-linked deals, with Clifford Chance ranked fourth. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer was placed seventh. Data for all categories was based on deals worth more than $5m.