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Weil Gotshal heads H1 global private equity table as DLA Piper enters top 20

Weil Gotshal & Manges has come out on top of the latest H1 private equity league tables in a top 20 which also includes DLA Piper, driven by a strong performance on the Continent and after a series of notable hires in the area.

Weil Gotshal leads Bloomberg’s announced private equity deals table by value – ahead of Latham & Watkins in second place and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett in third – with 46 deals worth a combined $56.8bn for the first six months of 2014.

The Wall Street firm was ranked ninth during the same period of 2013, this year boosted by instructions including from CCMP, Providence Equity Partners, THLee and Quadrangle on the €7.2bn sale of Spain’s largest cable broadband provider Ono to Vodafone in March. Other notable deals included acting for Baring Private Equity Asia on a $3bn deal to take private Chinese online gaming group Giant Interactive, which was previously listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

US firms dominate the table as the value of global M&A involving private equity firms rose from $214bn during the first half of 2013 to $319bn during the first six months of 2014, with 13 US firms making the top 20.

Latham was involved in $40bn worth of deals with a deal count of 62 to justify its second place ahead of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, which advised on 45 deals worth $36bn.

The results reveal improved rankings among the Magic Circle, with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer ranked fourth, having led on 43 deals worth $36bn, up from sixth position this time last year. Rival Clifford Chance rose eight places to sixth after having been instructed on 30 deals worth a combined $28bn, and Linklaters, which lost private equity co-heads Ian Bagshaw and Richard Youle to White & Case last year, handled 36 deals worth $26bn, rising from nineteenth to seventh.

However, according to the table the Magic Circle trio all lost market share.

Weil’s London-based co-head of international private equity, Marco Compagnoni told Legal Business: ‘A number of our key clients have been very busy over the last year and these results show that the private equity deal space has been strong for a while now. The US law firms are increasingly the ones dominating that market as they have the true international reach and the ability to handle all types of financial structure, not least ones involving the US debt markets.’

DLA Piper, meanwhile, was boosted by a buoyant Spanish office led by partner Juan Picon, who advised Vodafone on its takeover of Ono. The firm, which came in at number 17 with 30 deals worth a total of $12.8bn, advised British private equity firm Bridgepoint in its €450m acquisition of French automotive parts maker Flexitallic Group at the start of May.

The past year has seen DLA hire private equity heavyweight Tim Wright from King & Wood Mallesons SJ Berwin and launch a private equity group in Australia after the hire of Bryan Pointon from Gilbert + Tobin as its Asia Pacific corporate head.

David Raff, a private equity partner at DLA Piper, told Legal Business: ‘We’ve had a very good year in terms of volume and value, partly because of very good teams in France and Spain, as well as new hires in the US and Australia. International reach is increasingly a problem for UK firms due to the internationalisation of deals taking place. It’s not just about having offices, it’s about having private equity expertise in those offices.’