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U.S. Law Firms Dominate Europe M&A Market in Q1 2014

published March 24, 2014

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U.S. Law Firms Dominate Europe M&A Market in Q1 2014

Thomson Reuters' preliminary rankings for Q1 2014 show that the European market grew by more than 37 percent year-on-year as against the Q1 2013 value. While in Q1 2013 the value of the European M&A market was $171.2 billion, in Q1 2014 the value exceeded $234.7 billion. The growth in M&A in Europe was not an isolated phenomenon. Globally the market value of M&A work rose by more than 39 percent - from $485.5 billion to $675.5 billion.

U.S. law firms Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP, and Latham & Watkins LLP topped the charts in deal value with each law firm advising on transactions worth more than $32.6 billion in the European market. All four firms had a role in the biggest European M&A transaction in the first quarter of 2014 - the $23.3 billion acquisition of New York's Forest Laboratories by Dublin-based pharmaceutical company Actavis.

Other law firms that played a role in the Actavis deal included Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz, Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson , Arthur Cox and Stikeman Elliott LLP . Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz, Simpson Thacher, and Weil Gotshal advised Forest Laboratories, Inc. Likewise, Latham & Watkins, Skadden, Fried Frank, Arthur Cox and Stikeman Elliot advised Actavis.

Ten law firms within the top twelve in M&A work in Europe this first quarter were from U.S. The other two law firms were UK's Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP and Allen & Overy. Freshfields took the fifth position largely owing to its role in advising Ziggo on its $10.5 billion acquisition by Liberty Global, Inc. which amounted to a total deal value of $32.4 billion across 21 different transactions. Allen & Overy secured the 12th spot by its role in the Ziggo buyout as well as working on 31 transactions worth $14.8 billion.

Besides UK-based firms like DLA Piper, Linklaters LLP LLP and Clifford Chance LLP LLP who traditionally have a share of the European M&A market, U.S. law firms like Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP and Mayer Brown, German law firm Mannheimer Swartling, South Korean law firm Lee & Ko and Norway's Roscheir had a good season.

Big UK firms like Herbert Smith Freehills LLP and Allen & Overy, which were within the first four in 2013, dropped from their positions being pushed out by U.S. based firms. Even Freshfields which had topped the charts last year slipped to fifth position despite its deal value doubling from that of $16 billion as of last year.

The first five law firms in the Global M&A rankings for 2014, according to Thomson Reuters are Skadden, Simpson Thacher, White & Case LLP, Davis Polk, and Kirkland Ellis LLP.

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