WPP agency alliance overtakes Sard Verbinnen for top Mergermarket spot

It's the first time the partnership of Finsbury, Hering Schuppener, and Glover Park Group has topped the list.

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

NEW YORK: WPP’s alliance of Finsbury, Hering Schuppener, and Glover Park Group has unseated Sard Verbinnen & Co. as the M&A adviser that handled the highest value of deals globally in the first half of the year, according to Mergermarket.

Finsbury worked on 74 deals, seven fewer than last year, with a total value of $292.7 billion, a 148.9% increase over last year.

Sard Verbinnen followed the alliance with 114 transactions with a total value of $251.5 billion, a 31.5% increase. It handled six fewer deals than in 2017, but was the top firm in terms of volume of deals.

Behind Sard Verbinnen in terms of global deal value was Brunswick Group, which worked on 83 transactions with a total value of $243.9 billion, an increase of 39.6%.

It is the first time Finsbury has topped Mergermarket’s PR Advisors League table in terms of value, said agency partner Kal Goldberg, who leads the firm’s U.S. capital markets and transactions practice.

Mergermarket recognized the alliance of the three firms, which initially included Finsbury and Germany-based Hering Schuppener in 2016, as a single entity. Comms and government affairs shop Glover Park Group joined it last year.

"Our partnership is enabling us to bring a differentiated capability to our clients on cross-border deals, advising them on a combination of financial, regulatory, and geographical issues," Goldberg said. It has worked on the $62 billion Takeda takeover of Shire and Cigna’s $52 billion acquisition of Express Scripts. He added that Finsbury worked on four of the five biggest deals in the U.S. last year.

Goldberg also highlighted an increase in mergers and acquisitions in general and complex deals that require broader skill sets from not only financial communications professionals, but also bankers and lawyers.

"The biggest deals generally this year tend to be cross-border," he said.

FTI Consulting saw a 122.4% increase in the value of deals it handled to $233.2 billion. Its deal count rose by two to 104. Of the top 10 firms, Joele Frank Wilkinson Brimmer Katcher was the only agency to see its deal value decline (8.5%). The fifth-place firm handled 69 deals, down from 82 last year, with a total value of $157.8 billion.

Sard was the dominant agency in the U.S. in terms of deal value at $229.2 billion, up 33% year-over-year, and deal count, which was down five to 102.

Joele Frank came in second in terms of deal value, despite declining by 11.4% to $152.9 billion and its deal count falling by 16 to 65. In third, Finsbury’s deal value went up by 52.7% to $139.8 billion, while deal count went down 13 to 34.

Abernathy MacGregor’s deal value climbed by 73% to $102.7 billion, while its deal count dropped 27 to 38. Brunswick’s deal value dropped by 19.4% to $93.1 billion while deal count was unchanged at 43.

Maitland led U.K. agencies in deal count at 48, up 13 from last year, and value at $73.5 billion, a 108.1% year-over-year increase.

Finsbury’s deal count increased by one to 30, while its deal value jumped 156.2% to $71.6 billion. Brunswick’s deal value fell by 36.6% to $64.9 billion while its deal count was down by two to 31.

Tulchan Communications saw its deal value go up by 234.2% to $51.1 billion, with its deal count down by 10 to 17. FTI Consulting also saw a decline in deal value, down 68.5% to $27 billion, and its deal count was down by six to 47.  

Finsbury saw its deal value in Europe increase 131.6% to almost $216 billion and its deal count increase by seven to 64.

Brunswick came in second with 56 deals, down by 10 from last year, that had a total value of $176.1 billion, a 23.9% increase. FTI Consulting’s deal value was $158.5 billion, a 59.8% increase, and it had a deal count of 73, a loss of six.

Tulchan Communications’s deal value went up by 493.5% to $90.7 billion, with 18 deals, a decrease of nine. Ashton Consulting had a single deal with a total value of 79.7 billion, a 30% increase.

Asia excluding Japan
Brunswick topped the region’s deal value at $33.7 billion, up by 204%, despite only handling 14 deals, down by six from last year.

Edelman saw its deal value soar by 683.9% to $19.4 billion, while its deal count dropped by one to seven. Maitland’s deal value slid by 6.4% to $13.4 billion; its deal count was went up by six to eight.

Finsbury’s deal value in the region totaled $13.3 billion, a 54.8% gain, while it went down two in deal count to eight. Sard recorded the most deals with 18, which is down by one from last year, and an 8.3% increase in deal value to $12.2 billion.

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