M&A focus: A sign of things to come? Europe’s deal market ends 2018 with a whimper after a forceful start

M&A focus: A sign of things to come? Europe’s deal market ends 2018 with a whimper after a forceful start

The ghost of political turmoil did little to hinder deal-doing in Europe in the first half of 2018 but its presence appears to have made itself increasingly felt as the year wore on. With plcs wary of major investments ahead of the threat of mounting Brexit-related convulsions, not to mention a mainland European economy that lost some pace through 2018, it was an uneven run for corporate takeovers.

Globally, the latest figures from Mergermarket show the volume of deals completed in 2018 fell for the first time since 2010 to 19,232, after a decade of steadily rising. However, if overall activity was subdued, there was more cause for cheer with marquee deals; average deal value rose to $384.8m, the second-highest value on record, falling just short of the $400.3m notched up in 2015. Continue reading “M&A focus: A sign of things to come? Europe’s deal market ends 2018 with a whimper after a forceful start”

Deal View: ‘Tooling up’ – Activist funds edging into the mainstream of UK deal scene

Deal View: ‘Tooling up’ – Activist funds edging into the mainstream of UK deal scene

‘Most listed companies have run across activists by now or at least come close,’ says Andy Ryde, Slaughter and May’s head of corporate. Shareholder activism, once barely registering on UK shores, is becoming a fact of life for corporate counsel. Is the trend set to continue?

Allen & Overy (A&O) M&A partner Richard Browne certainly thinks so: ‘The stock market has been going strong over the last couple of years and it is harder for activists to gain traction because shareholders are seeing prices go up. There is likely to be an explosion in activist-driven deals when the market turns.’ Continue reading “Deal View: ‘Tooling up’ – Activist funds edging into the mainstream of UK deal scene”

The Last Word: Opportunity knocks

The Last Word: Opportunity knocks

The deal market tailed off at the end of 2018 after a generally resilient year. Here we ask the City’s leading corporate players for their prognosis on 2019

Powder dry

‘2018 started with a bang, but overall it was a tale of two halves. With competition for assets pushing valuations to eye-watering levels, investor fatigue and a degree of scepticism around the value-creating potential of M&A also took a toll. Looking forward to 2019, many of the factors that supported activity last year remain relevant. These include global growth, strong balance sheets, affordable debt and plenty of dry PE powder. But it’s hard to see 2019 topping 2018. We don’t expect a major correction, but we do anticipate a dip.’
Bob Bishop, co-chair of corporate, DLA Piper Continue reading “The Last Word: Opportunity knocks”

Deal watch: Busy year-end as Japanese group buys Swiss power grid and Malaysian funds invest in Battersea

Deal watch: Busy year-end as Japanese group buys Swiss power grid and Malaysian funds invest in Battersea

City deal teams are having a busy run-up to Christmas, with Baker McKenzie, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Addleshaw Goddard and Linklaters leading on two multibillion-dollar deals.

Bakers’ London private equity head David Allen and corporate partner Jannan Crozier led a team advising Hitachi as the Japanese conglomerate acquired 80.1% of Swiss giant ABB’s power grid division for around $6.4bn. Continue reading “Deal watch: Busy year-end as Japanese group buys Swiss power grid and Malaysian funds invest in Battersea”

Our latest event: 80 top partners and general counsel (plus a few token men)

Our latest event: 80 top partners and general counsel (plus a few token men)

One of our favourite pieces of the year was our first cover feature of 2018, Alphas, which thanks to the tireless efforts of senior reporters Nathalie Tidman and Marco Cillario, aimed to provide a credible selection of the top female talent in City law.

It was always the plan, if the piece was well received, to build on it with an event exploring the trials, realities and rewards for women making it to the top of transactional law, not to mention providing a forum for polished operators to swap notes. Continue reading “Our latest event: 80 top partners and general counsel (plus a few token men)”

Hello from the other side: CC private equity star Mahon to join Simpson Thacher

Hello from the other side: CC private equity star Mahon to join Simpson Thacher

In a significant blow to Clifford Chance’s M&A practice, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett has enticed private equity star Amy Mahon to its London office.

Mahon, who emerged as the most widely-cited female partner for private equity in Legal BusinessAlphas feature earlier this year, has been acknowledged by her peer group as ‘the most visible woman at Clifford Chance’ . Continue reading “Hello from the other side: CC private equity star Mahon to join Simpson Thacher”

Deal View: Herbert Smith Freehills’ corporate team – credibility and polish only get you so far up the table

Deal View: Herbert Smith Freehills’ corporate team – credibility and polish only get you so far up the table

‘It’s like the rivalry between Fulham and Chelsea,’ notes one former Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) partner of his old club’s oft-cited tension between corporate and disputes. ‘Fulham fans think of Chelsea as one of its biggest rivals. Chelsea fans think of Fulham as that nice team down the road.’

No prizes for guessing that it is corporate that represents the plucky underdog in this reading. At a glance, such a comparison seems uncharitable. HSF’s corporate team is ranked in The Legal 500’s second tier for premium M&A deals, alongside Allen & Overy and Clifford Chance; most peers still regard its City corporate team as the best outside the Magic Circle. The legacy Herbert Smith also has a history stretching back to the 19th century as one of London’s prominent corporate solicitors, long before its embryonic disputes team invented the modern City model of running litigation as a substantive business line in the 1970s. Continue reading “Deal View: Herbert Smith Freehills’ corporate team – credibility and polish only get you so far up the table”

Deal watch: Weil and Slaughters lead on Bain’s £1.2bn esure bid as CC and RPC land House of Fraser roles

Deal watch: Weil and Slaughters lead on Bain’s £1.2bn esure bid as CC and RPC land House of Fraser roles

Weil Gotshal & Manges and Slaughter and May have scooped key mandates on Bain Capital’s proposed £1.2bn takeover of UK insurer esure as RPC and Clifford Chance (CC) wade into the House of Fraser saga.

Weil is advising Bain on the proposed take-private, which will see the private equity player acquire, via its Blue (BC) Bidco Limited subsidiary, all shares in the motor and home insurer for 280 pence per share. The Weil team is led by private equity partner Marco Compagnoni and senior consultant Ian Hamilton. Continue reading “Deal watch: Weil and Slaughters lead on Bain’s £1.2bn esure bid as CC and RPC land House of Fraser roles”

Big deals – meet the GCs running the headline deals

Big deals – meet the GCs running the headline deals

The global M&A market is booming. Bill Mordan, general counsel at FTSE 100 drug-maker Shire, would know. Shire’s board recently recommended a £46bn takeover offer from rival Japanese pharma giant Takeda.

‘Money continues to be cheap to borrow and so it’s still easy to get funding from venture capital, as well as other speciality equity investments in new technologies,’ Mordan comments. ‘There’s a large quantum of assets out there available for acquisition.’ Continue reading “Big deals – meet the GCs running the headline deals”

Deal watch: HFW acts for Greek government on major state sell-off while US firms score heavyweight mandates

Deal watch: HFW acts for Greek government on major state sell-off while US firms score heavyweight mandates

In a deal of major national significance, Holman Fenwick Willan (HFW) and Clifford Chance (CC) have advised the Greek state on the €535m privatisation of its gas network. Meanwhile US leaders  Kirkland & Ellis, Weil Gotshal & Manges and Jones Day have also acted on substantial buyouts recently.

The sale of the natural gas transmission system operator, DESFA, is part of Greece’s wider strategy of disposing assets to reduce the country’s debt following the financial crisis. The deal implies a total equity value for DESFA of €810m. Continue reading “Deal watch: HFW acts for Greek government on major state sell-off while US firms score heavyweight mandates”