The restrained nature of the recovery is demonstrated in the 2004 edition of the Corporate Scorecard, The American Lawyer’s annual ranking of top transactional practices. “In many ways, 2003 was similar to 2002,” says Sullivan & Cromwell mergers and acquisitions partner Keith Pagnani. “We kept busy, but that level of activity was not reflected in the numbers.” M&A deals were withdrawn before announcement due to concerns that the rise in the markets may not be sustainable, lingering worries about the integrity of potential merger mates’ financials, and even the Sarbanes-Oxley Act — before expanding, corporations wanted to make sure their houses were in order, Pagnani says.
The top three issuer’s counsel on Thomson Financial’s asset-backed securities league table (Thacher Proffitt; McKee Nelson; and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, respectively) handled 475 issues with a combined value of $208.8 billion last year. The top three firms for 2002 handled 270 issues, with a combined value of $115.3 billion.
The top issuer’s counsel?
1. Simpson Thacher & Bartlett
2. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom
3. Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz
4. Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton
5. Weil, Gotshal & Manges