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Mega M&A deals boost year for law firms

Mega M&A deals boost year for law firms

Four mega deals helped boost the M&A market in 2010, making it a record-beating year for lawyers working in the area. The New Lawyer looks at which firms did the best.

FOUR mega deals helped boost the M&A market in 2010, making it a record-beating year for lawyers working in the area. The New Lawyer looks at which firms did the best.

Australian M&A lawyers were privy to 99 more deals last year than they were the year before, with a total of 379 M&A transactions. By deal count, it’s the biggest year since 2007, a record-breaking year with 520 deals in total.

Newly released mergermarket M&A figures reveal which firms scooped the greatest number of deals least year, and which scored roles on those four mega deals.

Freehills was the big winner of 2010 in terms of M&A, claiming the top position on the M&A league tables according to both deal count and deal value.

The firm completed 71 deals last year, valued at US$69.3 billion. It took Allens Arthur Robinson’s 2009 first position in terms of value of M&A deals, and retained its 2009 top spot in terms of deal count.

Mallesons Stephen Jaques, meanwhile, did 52 deals last year to a value of US$64.2bn, followed by Allens which did 40 deals valued at US$39bn and Clayton Utz with 41 deals valued at US$35bn. Minter Ellison, meanwhile, did a massive 58 deals, valued at a lower total of US$18.7bn.

Four mega deals valued over US$5bn saw the M&A boon for legal advisers in 2010, the mergermarket figures show.

The largest deal of the year was AMP Limited’s merger with AXA Asia Pacific Holdings, which Clayton Utz advising AMP and Mallesons, Freehills and Norton rose advising AXA.

The deal, valued at close to US$13.1bn, saw the creation of the so-called “fifth pillar” in the financial services landscape, of a size that would be able to compete with the big banks. The merger also hit the news earlier this year as AXA Asia Pacific boss Andrew Penn was awarded a $17 million golden handshake in the merger, making him Australia’s highest paid financial services CEO.

The second larger M&A deal of the year saw Australia’s top gold miner, Newcrest Mining, ink a $9.5bn merger with local rival Lihir Gold to create the world’s fourth largest listed gold miner. Allens, Mallesons and Sidley Austin advised the buyer side on the deal and Blake Dawson advised Lihir Gold locally.

The US$7.27bn demerger of the Westfield Retails Trust from the Westfield Group was another big deal for law firms. Freehills and Mallesons, with Sidley Austin, gained work on the deal.

Freehills and Clayton UTZ also scooped positions on opposite side of the Singapore Exchange bid for the Australian Stock Exchange. The Australian competition regulator cleared the proposed $8.4bn merger in December, but the decision now rests with Treasurer Wayne Swan.

UBS Investment Bank (advised on US$45.8 billion worth of deal) and Macquarie (advised on 31 transactions) come first on the financial adviser league tables by value and volume respectively.


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