Linklaters and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer dominated European M&A activity during the first half of 2009.

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Linklaters and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer dominated European M&A activity during the first half of 2009.

Research from Mergermarket, exclusively provided to Legal Week, shows that Freshfields has moved to the top of the European rankings by value, working on 63 deals worth 94.29 billion euros ($132.25 billion).

Linklaters sits in second place by value in Europe, working on 72 deals worth 81.66 billion euros ($114.54 billion). The tallies mean the firms switch places in the European rankings by volume, with Linklaters in first place. Linklaters topped the European rankings by both value and volume for the first six months of 2008.

Freshfields advised on the largest deal of the first half, acting for healthcare company Roche on its $44.29 billion acquisition of Genentech in January.

Magic Circle rivals Allen & Overy and Clifford Chance also sit in the top five by volume, with A&O working on 57 deals worth 22.8 billion euros ($31.97 billion) and Clifford Chance working on 59.84 billion euros ($83.9 billion) of deals over 51 transactions.

However, given the dearth of M&A activity, value rankings have been skewed by roles on the few big-ticket mandates around. It means that only five U.K. firms make the European value rankings, with U.S., Canadian, Australian and continental European firms making up the rest of the top 20.

U.S. firms in particular scored highly, with six U.S. firms sitting in the Euro top 10 by value, compared with three over the same period last year.

Freshfields corporate partner Ed Braham said: “M&A is way down on historic levels and that will tend to distort the tables. However, the pipeline is stronger than it has been for some time and our restructuring and insolvency practice is creating a lot of M&A-type activity.”

Linklaters global head of corporate David Barnes said: “Volumes continue to fall but there is some work out there. There are two trends that have developed — financial services work is still coming through and there has been a flurry of activity in energy and natural resources. However, deals are taking a while to come to a head.”

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