Legal advisers Simpson Thacher & Bartlett and Kirkland & Ellis were noted to be the top mergers and acquisitions (M&A) legal advisers in North America in the first half (H1) of 2020, based on deal value and volume, respectively. Despite advising on fewer deals, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett managed to secure the top position by value due to its involvement in big-ticket deals such as Thermo Fisher Scientific's acquisition of Qiagen for US$11.5bn and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company's sale of 49% stake in ADNOC Gas Pipelines to consortium of investors for US$10.1bn, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
Simpson Thacher & Bartlett advised on 53 deals worth US$69.3bn, which was the highest among all advisers. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom occupied the second position by value with 50 deals worth US$56.5bn. On the other hand, Kirkland & Ellis, which led in volume terms having advised on 163 deals worth US$55.7bn during H1, had to settle for the third position in value terms. Latham & Watkins occupied the second position by volume with 113 deals worth US$38.4bn followed by Jones Day with 104 deals worth US$26.8bn, according to GlobalData.
Aurojyoti Bose, Financial Deals Analyst at GlobalData, comments: 'Kirkland & Ellis, Latham & Watkins and Jones Day were the only three advisers that managed to advise on more than 100 deals by volume during the COVID-19 hit H1, thereby outpacing most of their peers by a great margin. However, none of these players could top the list by value and Jones Day did not even feature in the list of top advisors by value.'
North American deal landscape in H1 2020
The number of deals announced in North America decreased by 25.3% from 14,462 in H1 2019 to 10,804 in H1 2020, according to GlobalData's Financial Deals Database. Deal value decreased by 60.1% from US$998bn in H1 2019 to US$398.3bn in H1 2020. The subdued deal activity could be attributed to volatile market conditions due to COVID-19 outbreak.
Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, which topped the North American deals league table by value, stood at 8th position (by value) in the recently released global league table of top 20 M&A legal advisers by GlobalData. Similarly, Kirkland & Ellis, which topped the North American league table by volume, also occupied the top position (by volume) in the global league table.