US firms dominate global M&A as businesses make fewer – but bigger – deals

by |
Large American law firms dominated the global mergers and acquisitions landscape in the first quarter of the year as dealmakers made fewer but bigger deals, Thomson Reuters’ latest league tables reveal.

Worldwide, M&A deals value reached US$777.7bn, up 12% year-on-year, while deal volume was 10,433, down 9% compared to the first quarter of 2016. Companies were making bigger deals, with 138 deals at more than US$1bn in value, a 26% increase on the year, for a total value of US$501.1bn, up 19% compared to the same quarter last year. However, compared to the fourth quarter of 2016, deals value fell 39% from US$1.3trn, the lowest quarterly total for worldwide deals in 12 months.

Cross-border M&A reached a 10-year high off the back of strong outbound activity in the US and inbound activity in Europe. Cross-border activity totalled US$337.1bn, accounting for 43% of worldwide deals volume. On the other end of the spectrum, China outbound M&A dropped 70% on the year to US$25.8bn.
Announced deals with European targets totalled US$225bn, up 29% YoY, while APAC deals fell 14% on the year to US$163.2bn. According to Thomson Reuters, European targets accounted for 29% of worldwide M&A, a three-year high.

In terms of sectors, the energy and power, materials, and healthcare industries were the biggest in the quarter, despite materials M&A dipping 2% by value and 9% by number of deals. The energy and power sector was up 62% YoY, while healthcare M&A jumped 61%. The industrials industry lost the most, down 48% YoY and 24% QoQ.

The top 10 firms worldwide in terms of announced deals are:
  1. Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton (US$102.49bn)
  2. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (US$$83.72bn)
  3. Kirkland & Ellis (US$68.02bn)
  4. Cravath, Swaine & Moore (US$62.81bn)
  5. Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher (US$53.31bn)
  6. Slaughter & May (US$53.04bn)
  7. Simpson Thacher & Bartlett (US$50.08bn)
  8. Sullivan & Cromwell (US$48.7bn)
  9. Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz (US$48.36bn)
  10. Jones Day (US$47.62bn)
The top 10 firms worldwide in terms of completed deals are:
  1. Sullivan & Cromwell (US$125.97bn)
  2. White & Case (US$118.8bn)
  3. Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz (US$114.95bn)
  4. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (US$$102.06bn)
  5. Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton (US$88.92bn)
  6. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (US$78.7bn)
  7. Davis Polk & Wardwell (US$76.13bn)
  8. Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher (US$60bn)
  9. O’Melveny & Myers (US$52.86bn)
  10. Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati (US$50.78bn)

Related stories:
Australasian M&A drops in first quarter
Law firm expects growth in FinTech M&A