A drop in M&A activity has seen a shake up of law firm rankings on the Thomson Reuters league tables, with Gilbert + Tobin re-entering the top ten in terms of announced deals.
According to Thomson Reuters, there was a global increase in value of nearly 10 per cent for M&A deals from January to June 2010 as compared to the first six months in 2009.
However, Australia suffered a major drop in activity. For the first half of this year, M&A activity in Australia decreased by more than one third as compared to 2009, from $107.7 billion to $71.3 billion
Freehills acted on 34 completed deals with a combined value of $7.18 billion for the review period, well ahead of the next best firm, Clayton Utz (36 deals, $5.66 billion) and Blake Dawson (25 deals, 4.82 billion). Major transactions that Freehills acted on over the last six months include the Seven Network's $2.5 billion merger with WesTrac.
Allens was the leading firm with regard to announced M&A deals for the first half of the year ($29.74 billion), ahead of Mallesons Stephen Jaques ($29.22 billion) and Blake Dawson ($28.45 billion).
Magic Circle firm Freshfields were the big movers in the Thomson table, improving their ranking for completed deals from 27 for the first six months in 2009 to five for the current period. In terms of announced deals, Gilbert + Tobin and Minter Ellison both moved into the top 10, ahead of firms including Clayton Utz, Corrs Chambers Westgarth and Baker & McKenzie.
Senior partners from both Freehills and Allens cited the stand-off with regard to the Resources Super Profits Tax as being the key reason for the reduced level of M&A activity in so far this year. With the issue resolved, both firms are confident that some uncertainty in the market has been removed.
"We think the announcement last Friday of an agreement between the Government and industry on the Minerals Resource Rent Tax will help M&A activity, although the impact might not be felt until after the election," said Guy Alexander, Allens co-head of M&A.