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Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom leads GlobalData’s top 20 global M&A legal adviser league table for Q1 2020

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Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom has secured number one position in the latest global mergers and acquisitions (M&A) legal advisers league table based on deal value in the first quarter of 2020, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

The American law firm advised on 33 deals worth US$84.2bn, including a major transaction during the period – Aon’s acquisition of Willis Towers Watson for US$33.4bn.

GlobalData, which compiles league tables using real-time data tracked from all M&A, private equity/venture capital and asset transaction activity globally, confirmed that Latham & Watkins occupied the second position with transactions worth US$81.6bn, marking a 27.23% year-on-year decrease in deal value.

Aurojyoti Bose, Financial Deals Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “In terms of deal value, Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom (Skadden) emerged as the top legal adviser in Q1 2020 despite advising on relatively lesser number of deals compared to its peers. On the other hand, Kirkland & Ellis, which held the top spot in terms of deal volume, stood at the fifth position in value terms. Interestingly, eight of the top 20 advisers (by total deal value) including Skadden advised on US$33.4bn Aon – Willis Towers Watson merger deal.

“Eleven of the top 20 advisers (by total deal value) witnessed decline in advised deal value in Q1 2020 compared with Q1 2019. Moreover, 13 of the top 20 advisers (by total deal volume) also witnessed decline in advised deal volume in Q1 2020 compared with Q1 2019.

“Globally, overall M&A Activity dropped both in value and volume terms in Q1 2020 compared to the previous quarter as well as Q1 2019, which could also be attributed to COVID-19 concerns. According to an insight on impact of COVID-19 on M&A by Skadden released on March 18, 2020, the firm stated that COVID-19 crisis outbreak is continuing to affect M&A activity. However, it also states that companies with higher risk appetite continue to pursue M&A deals.”

Sullivan & Cromwell advised on 34 transactions worth US$77.0bn while Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer worked on 19 deals worth US$71.1bn. With 103 deals worth US$65.9bn, Kirkland & Ellis held the fifth position.

In deal volume terms, Kirkland & Ellis topped the table with 103 deals, followed by Jones Day with 100 deals worth US$21.3bn.

The overall announced deal value stood at US$575.2bn in the first quarter of 2020, a decline of 35.51% from the first quarter of 2019.

In the first quarter of 2020, 12,605 deals were recorded globally, marking a 12.13% decrease from the first quarter of 2019.