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Skadden and Freshfields top global deal tables as M&A figures reach record heights

In a record year for global M&A, US firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and Magic Circle firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer were the top performers in the US and Europe respectively, according to Dealogic’s 2015 league tables.

As worldwide deal volumes surpassed $5trn for the first time, global attorney rankings for corporate advisory work show Skadden was top of the class, advising on 293 deals worth over $1trn, beating out rivals including Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz which came second with 130 deals valued at $733.1bn, Latham & Watkins which came third with 302 deals totaling $590.2bn, followed Freshfields with 190 deals worth $587.6bn.

Skadden also came out on top in US attorney rankings, advising on 203 deals valued at $881.9bn. Notably Weil Gotshal & Manges has fallen several places. While the firm had taken the top spot in the global attorney rankings and US attorney rankings in 2014, it now sits in sixth and fourth place respectively for these categories.

Meanwhile, Freshfields retained its title as top firm in the European attorney rankings, advising on $418.4bn worth of deals, while other Magic Circle firms Linklaters, Clifford Chance and Slaughter and May came third ($228.8bn), fourth ($221bn) and sixth place ($200.3bn) respectively. New entrants in Europe’s top ten lawyer rankings included Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton in seventh place (2014: 12th) and Hogan Lovells in ninth (2014: 15th).

De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek leapt to eighth place from 38th in 2014. Major deals for the Dutch firm last year included Shell’s £47bn acquisition of BG Group alongside Slaughter and May and Freshfields, as well as the $1bn IPO of Grand Vision, the owner of Vision Express, alongside Linklaters and Davis Polk & Wardwell.

EMEA targeted deal flow accounted for 22% ($1.13trn) of global M&A, a record low and well below the average for the last ten years which stood at 35%. One of Europe’s biggest deals was in the food and beverage industry, with Anheuser-Busch InBev’s £71bn proposed takeover bid for SABMiller, an agreement which a host of firms including Freshfields and Linklaters advised on.

US targeted M&A volume reached a record high of $2.47trn, up 59% on the year before, from $1.55trn . Healthcare was the top ranked sector in 2015 with $724.4bn, up 66% from 2014 ($436.4bn) and technology came closely behind with record high volume and activity of $715.7bn via 9,367 deals, over double the 2014 total ($327.4bn).