Smithfield hits top of M&A chart as deal values fall

Smithfield Financial has shot to the top of the Deal Watch table for PR advisers on mergers and acquisitions in November. Smithfield has not held first position for the total value of deals it advised on in any month since July 2001, when the firm was still part of Chime Communications (PR Week, 8 July 2001).

Smithfield’s most recent appearance in the top ten was last July when the company held eighth position (PR Week, 4 July).

But work on £3.1bn worth of deals in November, including advising Scottish & Newcastle on the £2.5bn sale of the company’s retail business to Spirit Amber Bidco, propelled Smithfield to the top of the table.

Smithfield also secured a position as financial PR adviser to Weetabix on the £642m sale of the company to private equity company Hicks Muse Tate & Furst and its

acquisition vehicle Latimer Acquisitions.

Last month’s leader Brunswick falls to seventh place in the November table, but the £16.1bn combined value of the deals worked on by the top ten M&A PR advisers is nearly £7 bn less than the value of transactions Brunswick alone worked on in October (£22.9bn). October’s top ten worked on more than £68bn worth of deals.

The shift in deal value resulted in the entry of five firms in the top ten table that did not make the October ranking.

In addition to Smithfield, Bell Pottinger Financial came in at number five, College

Hill Associates at six, Penrose Financial at number eight and The Maitland Consultancy ninth.

Bell Pottinger and College Hill worked on Punch Taverns’ £1.1bn takeover of Pubmaster, the only other deal in November worth more than £1bn. The former advised Pubmaster while the latter advised Punch.

Ed Mountifield, head of research at Zephus, which compiles Deal Watch for PR Week, said the UK had not yet caught on to the deal recovery in the US but that it was too early to say what the long-term impact of the decline in deal volume would be.

‘Given that things are starting to take off in the US, the UK’s figures for November are quite disappointing. This may be the result of the slight rise in interest rates and the possibility that there may be further rises or it may simply be that the market is taking its traditional breather in the run up to Christmas,’ he said.

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