High value M&A assignments proved to be game changers for legal advisers in 2019

Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz and Kirkland & Ellis secured the first and second position among the global mergers and acquisitions (M&A) legal advisers based on deal value (comprising announced, completed, planned, rejected, rumor and terminated deals) in 2019, outpacing Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, which occupied the top spot in 2017 and 2018, by a large margin, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz advised on M&A transactions valued at US$689.3bn in 2019, representing a 43.96% year-on-year (y-o-y) growth over US$478.8bn in 2018. Similarly, Kirkland & Ellis witnessed a massive jump of 58.3% in value of its M&A assignments in 2019. In contrast, Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom registered massive y-o-y decline of 40.5% in the aggregate amount of its M&A assignments.

Aurojyoti Bose, Lead Analyst at GlobalData, says: “Involvement in big ticket transactions remains the key and helped Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz and Kirkland & Ellis secure the top spots.”

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Some of the big ticket M&A assignments, including the biggest M&A transaction of the year – Bristol-Myers Squibb’s acquisition of Celgene for ~US$90bn – helped both Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz and Kirkland & Ellis take a major leap and occupy the top spots in 2019. While Kirkland & Ellis represented Bristol-Myers Squibb, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz advised Celgene on the transaction.

Moreover, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz represented companies in five of the top ten M&A transactions in 2019.

On the other hand, Kirkland & Ellis, which even failed to make it to the list of top ten legal advisers by value in 2018 despite advising on the highest number of deals during the year, managed to secure the second position in 2019 in terms of value as it advised on three of the top ten M&A transactions in 2019.

In contrast, Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, which worked on fewer big ticket M&A deals in 2019 compared to 2018, failed to occupy the top spot. The company, which worked on five of the top ten M&A transactions of 2018, represented only one of the top ten M&A transactions in 2019.

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