FREEHILLS HAS again topped both the completed and announced Thomson M&A tables, the first time a firm has done this two years in a row.
As anticipated in an article published by Lawyers Weekly in September last year, which was based on preliminary results obtained by this magazine, the firm was in the past year the clear leader in the tables.
The firm also grabbed the largest market share in IPOs, according to the Bloomberg IPO league tables.
Freehills was followed by Allens Arthur Robinson, Mallesons Stephen Jaques and Blake Dawson Waldron on the completed M&A tables for Australia and New Zealand. This line up was repeated on the announced tables; however, Clayton Utz replaced Blakes in fourth spot.
Commenting on the firm’s IPO result, Mark Rigotti, head of the corporate practice, said most important to Freehills’ performance was acting for the issuer rather than secondary participants.
He named three other factors. One was ensuring the firm maintained its “leadership position” and be identified as such. “We are a name synonymous with this area — equities markets, IPOs and floats.”
Another reason was the calibre of the lawyers on their team and the attraction they have for good young lawyers. “Those really seasoned practitioners attract the best type of people and [are a] magnet for the best work in the market.”
A third factor was ensuring they are respected over a long period by their clients, including investment banks, underwriters and intermediaries. “[We have] worked hard to be respected in that category so when they influence who acts, we are seen as the best set of hands.”
Jon North, head of capital markets at Allens Arthur Robinson, said his firm’s performance on the Bloomberg tables showed a “significant increase in market share against competitors”.
He said the table does not show the number of times the firm acted for the lead managers on those IPOs and the lead managers for the major IPOs of 2005 — Goodman Fielder, SP AusNet and Spark.
“We weren’t ... acting for the issuer, but [we] were certainly part of all the deals and pleased to improve market share acting for the issuer.
“We think ...we have consolidated our position in the property trust sector, particularly US REIT type IPOs.”
Blake Dawson Waldron partner Bill Koeck said the firm had returned to its customary position at number four in the completed Thomson M&A deal tables.
“Certainly we have had a very large share of these larger, more complicated and difficult transactions, but if you look at our rating over the longer term, I would say our rating nationally is at the number four level,” he said.
“I think we dropped back last year, but there are fluctuations in these things and I think what we would say is that you have to look at the longer term, you can’t just look at one short period.”
Aaron Kenavan, M&A partner at Freehills, said the M&A sector is unlikely to slow down for at least the first six months of this year.
“We have got a good solid pipeline. [The] chatter in the market is that there is expected to be lot of good activity.”
In Asia, he said there were good opportunities for clients to invest and expand. “I think that China in particular has seen an increase in the relative number of transactions compared to the rest of Asia.”