An M&A deal resurgence in the fourth quarter of 2009 has sparked hopes of a recovery in global deal-making in early 2010, with law firms worldwide advising on $US628.6 billion ($675.05 billion) of deals, an increase of 90 per cent on the previous quarter.
According to Mergermarket, the fourth quarter was the best since the third quarter of 2008 in value terms, and the biggest ever for Asian deals, valued at $175.1 billion, eclipsing a previous record of $141 billion set in the fourth quarter of 2006.
However, total value and volume for the full year 2009 finished 27 per cent down on 2008, indicating that overall it was "not a good year for M&A".
The research group's 2009 league tables were topped by US firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, with 171 deals valued at $331.2 billion. Jones Day, Freshfields and Linklaters were the top three volume players, with more than 200 deals each.
Blake Dawson entered the value league tables ranked 24 thanks to its representation of BHP Billiton in the $58 billion joint venture with Rio Tinto. The mega-deal was second in value only to pharmaceutical giant Pfizer's $US63 billion acquisition of Wyeth.
The year saw a dramatic rise in insolvency transactions, as opportunistic buyers with available capital took advantage of distressed companies. Insolvency deals were up a mammoth 370 per cent on recorded deals for 2008, and were valued at $95.5 billion.
There was also a boost in the number of mega deals in 2009, with four transactions worth more than $40 billion, up on the three recorded in 2008.
The Mergermarket report stated that despite continuing uncertainty in the markets, there are signs that fourth-quarter momentum would carry through into 2010. "A resurgence in financial sponsor activity, corporates sitting on record levels of cash, and a thawing credit market could signal a good year for M&A dealmakers," the group said.