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Freehills to top M&A tables again

Freehills to top M&A tables again

FREEHILLS LAWYERS is expected to be the clear winner in the soon to be announced Thomson Financial mergers and acquisitions league tables, marked in preliminary results this week as the leader,…

FREEHILLS LAWYERS is expected to be the clear winner in the soon to be announced Thomson Financial mergers and acquisitions league tables, marked in preliminary results this week as the leader, ahead of rivals Allens Arthur Robinson and Mallesons Stephen Jaques.

In the quarterly overview of M&A data, preliminary results were obtained by Lawyers Weekly this week ahead of the official release of the final tables for the third quarter of 2005.

Freehills this year were the clear leaders in the tables, according to the preliminary results, with 131 deals worth 49.6 per cent of the market share. Following in second place, Allens Arthur Robinson completed 65 deals worth 32.7 per cent of the market share in the completed tables.

The Thomson tables have in the past received some criticism for their methodology and criteria, some firms claiming they were too open. Thomson last year changed the methodology of the tables so that while in previous years only deals worth more than US$30 ($39.6) million could be included, last year it allowed “any involvement”, a source said. This increased the number of deals that could be included. While Freehills two years ago included 30 deals, last year, for example, it was allowed to include 121.

But Freehills partner Aaron Kenavan told Lawyers Weekly that all firms are given an equal playing field in the methodology, arguing that while some firms may find fault in the criteria, all are given the same opportunity. “We only include the deals that fall within the criteria as everyone else does. All firms have views about whether the criteria should change. There are some aspects of it that have been [criticised] in the press in the past; some say ‘these results would be different if this were changed or that were changed’. We think changes could be made but, in the end, if these are the rules then these are the rules,” said Kenavan.

The Thomson Financial tables this year excluded equity carveouts, withdrawn deals and open market repurchases.

The preliminary results are “pleasing”, said Kenavan. He said they are “a continuation of the theme that we’ve had over the past few results. We’re getting a sizeable share of the deals, which is good”.

“It’s not that we did well in any particular area. We did well across the board. For example, we have quite a strong public market team and private equity team and it’s the whole group that is performing well rather than in pockets,” he said.

Freehills has acted on some major deals in this quarter, including the Orica/Dyno Nobel and the Metcash/Foodland transactions, both of which Kenavan said had “complex deal structures and were pretty sizeable transactions”. As well, the firm acted on the Transurban/Hills and the San Miguel/National Foods transactions.

Freehills also topped the Thomson tables last year, with Allens Arthur Robinson again following closely. While Freehills this year clearly dominates the Thomson Financial M&A Australia and New Zealand tables, last year, Bloomberg LP named Allens Arthur Robinson the top legal advisor for announced mergers and acquisition deals in the same region last calendar year.

Mallesons this year is placed third in the preliminary completed Thomson M&A tables, with 46 deals making up 28.1 per cent of the market share.

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