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Law firms welcome M&A outlook

Law firms welcome M&A outlook

The first quarter of 2011 augers well for a strong year of M&A activity, law firms specialising in the area say.

THE first quarter of 2011 augers well for a strong year of M&A activity, law firms specialising in the area say.

Law firms are now highlighting the big deals they've worked on in the past quarter, with usual suspects in the top ranks, Freehills, Mallesons, Clayton Utz and the largest Australian law firms, in usual top positions. 

The first quarter Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters Legal Advisory Tables showed a strong range of announced M&A activity including the Centro Property Group sale of its US assets and the merger of the Seven Group with West Australian Newspaper Group.

The Bloomberg results reveal that globally, the majority of M&A transactions occurred in the mid-market range, below $500 million in size. Just three deals reached the mega-deal category, which is classified as any deal worth more than $10 billion. 

In the same results, cross border activity accounted for more than 52 per cent of global M&A volume, a 35 per cent increase from the same period in 2010. 

According to Freehills corporate practice group head, Richard Loveridge, it had been the strongest opening to the year since 2008 before the Global Financial Crisis led to a substantial drop in M&A activity.

Loveridge said in a statement: "According to Thomson Reuters the value of M&A deals on which Freehills has advised is almost 60 per cent higher than that of first quarter 2010 and more than four times the value recorded in the first quarter of 2008," he said.

"Announced deals can be a good indicator of where the market is going. It is particularly pleasing to see that Freehills has almost double the value of announced deals compared to its nearest rival for the first quarter of this year."

According to Thomson Reuters, Freehills advised on 14 announced deals in the first quarter of 2011 with a combined value of over $20 billion.  These included Centro Property Group sale of its US assets and the Seven Media Group merger with West Australian Newspapers. The Seven and West Australian deal was alone worth $4.1 bn.

The New Lawyer will give a full reports on M&A law firm rankings this week. 

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