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Norton Rose pushes in on M&A league tables

Norton Rose pushes in on M&A league tables

Norton Rose is getting in the way of Australian law firms' league table rankings.

NORTON Rose is getting in the way of Australian law firms' league table rankings. The international firm, which merged this year with local firm Deacons, is the highest-ranked law firm with an Australian office in the newly released mergers and acquisitions leagues tables.

Mallesons Stephen Jaques, Allens Arthur Robinson and Freehills, to name a few, have long jostled for the top ranks in the various league tables, released quarterly, yearly, or twice-yearly by Mergermarket and Thomson, among others.

The top Australian law firms have traditionally slipped up and down the ranks, depending on which mega deals they scooped, and which ranking terminology was used year on year.

Often Freehills will have done the most deals, but Mallesons will rank highest in terms of value, and other firms have occasionally budged them for the top spots in the tables.

Allens and smaller law firm Johnson Winter & Slattery have also ranked at the top two or three in recent years. Sometimes the likes of Linklaters will squeeze into the top spots on some tables.

In Mergermarket’s newly released M&A round-up for the first half of 2010 for the Asia-Pacific, deals were up 11 per cent from the same period last year.

Australia accounted for 21.7 per cent of Asia-Pacific M&A in the first half of the year, while China and Hong Kong still dominated the market, with more than 30 per cent of M&A.

Norton Rose, with its strengths in these markets, then, ranked high in the newly released tables for the Asia-Pacific.

The largest deal announced in the second quarter of 2010 was Australian-based Newcrest Mining’s offer for Lihir Gold, valued at $8.3 billion. On that deal, Allens advised Newcrest with Sidley Austin, while Mallesons advised the Bank of America Merrill Lynch, for Newcrest. Blake Dawson, meanwhile, acted for Lihir Gold.

Freehills also scooped the second largest deal of the Q2, acting for AXA SA on the acquisition of AXA Asia Pacific Holdings. Allens and Mallesons, meanwhile, advised the seller on the $8.6bn deal.

It was these firms that ranked highest among the Australian players in M&A this past quarter. While Herbert Smith topped the rankings with $50.2bn worth of deals (8 deals), and Slaughter and May came in third with 9 deals worth $40.5bn, Norton Rose did 17 deals worth $39.1bn, a massive increase on last year’s ranking of 62.

Allens Arthur Robinson ranked 11 in the Asia-Pacific tables (down on last year’s rank of 6), with 15 deals worth $21.2bn. Mallesons Stephen Jaques is ranked at 12 (down on last year’s rank of 4), with 28 deals worth $23.4bn.

Freehills, meanwhile, stayed at rank 16 in the tables, with 27 deals worth $14.7bn. Baker & McKenzie ranked at 17 with 20 deals worth $10.8bn and Blake Dawson at 18 with 13 deals worth $10.8bn.

Mergermarket suggests that there are signs that M&A might be cooling down in the region. The second quarter 2010 saw 455 deals, with a total value of $64.1bn, the lowest Q2 period since Q2 2006, it said.

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