Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP was the top-ranked legal adviser on European mergers in 2007, with lawyers expecting the brisk pace of mid-sized corporate acquisitions to continue into the new year.
“In Germany, we are running on full steam with a very hot two weeks at the end of the year and the same into January,” Christoph Seibt, a Hamburg-based Freshfields corporate partner, said in a telephone interview Dec. 21. Freshfields also was the top firm for European mergers and acquisitions in 2006. Banking, infrastructure and energy work kept lawyers busy, replacing high-end private-equity transactions, which dropped off after the credit crunch. The trend toward mid-market deals of less than 1 billion pounds ($2 billion) looked likely to continue in 2008 with momentum swinging to the emerging markets, lawyers said.
“Russia has been desperately busy, I’m sure for everyone, and we’ve done several financial-services transactions there,” said Alan Paul, a London-based corporate partner at Allen & Overy LLP, the No. 2 M&A law firm in 2007.
Paul led the London team advising on the biggest European transaction of 2007, the 71.5 billion-euro ($103.8 billion) bid by Fortis, Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc and Banco Santander SA for Amsterdam-based ABN Amro. The deal was also the biggest ever in the global banking industry.
There were 352 European acquisitions valued at more than $1 billion in 2007, with 85 of those deals announced in the last quarter.
Worldwide, a record 31,647 transactions worth $4 trillion were announced as of Dec. 21, already exceeding 2006, which had 28,542 deals valued at $3.6 trillion, Bloomberg data show.