That’s according to new research from media analysis and data company Mergermarket, which found Sard Verbinnen last year worked on 264 deals with a total value of US$476.3bn. In 2017 the New York-headquartered agency handled 252 deals worth $406.3bn.
Brunswick returned to second spot in the deals-by-value table – the value rose 26.2 per cent to $389.2bn.
The combined entry of Finsbury, Hering Schuppener, and Glover Park topped the table by value of deals at the half-year stage. However, it slipped to third in the full-year table, despite growing deal value 20.7 per cent to $376bn across 2018.
All but two agencies in the top 10 saw an increase the value of deals they handled in 2018 (see table, below). This is in contrast to the previous year, when five of the leading 10 consultancies experienced a decline in value.
There was no change in the top five of the league table by deal count, with Kekst CNC, FTI, Brunswick and the WPP trio trailing Sard Verbinnen. (See table, below).
Selected regional breakdown:
In the US, Sard Verbinnen retained the top spot by both value and volume of deals, although it saw a decline in both. It handled one fewer deal in the year (225) and the value of the deals fell 6.6 per cent to $347.3bn.
Joele Frank Wilkinson Brimmer Katcher also retained its positions: number two by value, growing 18.7 per cent to $346.6bn, and number three by volume, despite handling 18 fewer deals in 2018 (136).
Brunswick moved from fifth to third by value, growing the total by 27.3 per cent to $193.5bn. It also handled 16 more deals in the US than in 2017, leaving it fourth on the table with 101 transactions.
Brunswick remained on top of the table by value of deals in the UK, with a total deal value of $152bn.
Its nearest rival was Finsbury, Hering Schuppener, and Glover Park. The WPP consortium doubled the value of deals that it oversaw - $110.3bn – as it pipped Maitland to second place, despite the latter also seeing a huge lift in the value of deals, which grew 108.3 per cent to $89.8bn. Third was Tulchan (up 80.1 per cent to $65bn), followed by Kekst CNC (up 45.5 per cent to $45.3bn).
FTI fell from second to sixth in the table as the value fell 56.9 per cent to £43.6bn.
Maitland topped the table by deal volume with 114, up from 69 in 2017. It overtook FTI, which handled 10 fewer deals (100) than in the previous year. Behind FTI was Brunswick (81), Finsbury, Hering Schuppener, and Glover Park (57) and MHP (50).
Brunswick also retained its place at the top of the Europe table by deal value, handling deals worth $294bn in 2018, a rise of 32.2 per cent on the previous year.
Finsbury, Hering Schuppener, and Glover Park moved up to second, growing the value of deals 67.2 per cent to $171.2bn. FTI pushed Sard Verbinnen into fourth place, handling deals worth $224.5bn, a rise of 78.4 per cent.
FTI and Brunswick once again held the top two spots in terms of number of deals, handling 169 (up 13) and 153 (up 32) respectively. Finsbury, Hering Schuppener, and Glover Park retained its third position, overseeing 137 deals in the year, a rise of 19 on 2017. Maitland is fourth with 137 deals (2017: 79).
Asia-Pacific (excluding Japan)
Brunswick also handled the most deals by value in APAC in 2018, although the value slipped a little, down 1.7 per cent to $70bn. FTI moved from 13th to second on the list as the value of deals it oversaw rose from $12.2bn in 2017 to $45.8bn last year.
Sard Verbinnen doubled the value of deals it handled in the region in 2018 ($41.4bn) and moved from second to first in the league table by volume of transactions – it oversaw 49 deals in 2018. Brunswick was second in that table with 44 deals, one fewer than in 2017.