Sard Verbinnen retains title of top global M&A adviser as rivals gain ground

Sard Verbinnen again held its position as the agency that handled the most M&A deals globally in 2019, with Joele Frank, Wilkinson Brimmer Katcher and Kekst CNC among the agencies moving up the tables.

(Pic credit: Wutthichai Luemuang/EyeEm/Getty Images)
(Pic credit: Wutthichai Luemuang/EyeEm/Getty Images)

Sard Verbinnen topped the tables for both the number of deals (251) and the value of the deals ($476.5bn), according to new research from media analysis and data company Mergermarket.

The agency grew the value of deals it handled by 13 per cent on 2018, although the number of deals involved fell by 17.

Sard Verbinnen previously topped the table by the value of deals in 2017 and 2018.

Elsewhere in the table of deals by value, Joele Frank, Wilkinson Brimmer Katcher moved from fourth to second place as the value of deals it handled rose 50.2 per cent to $350.3bn.

It leapfrogged Brunswick ($393.3bn), which fell to third – ahead of Kekst CNC, which moved up from eighth to fourth position ($128.2bn) as the value of deals increased three-fold.

In the table of deals by number, Kekst CNC again performed strongly, moving from fourth to second place with 235 transactions. In third place was Finsbury Hering Schuppener GPG, which oversaw 200 deals, although the value of deals handled by the alliance of WPP agencies fell 40.3 per cent to $218.5bn.

FTI Consulting saw a fall in deals by value (down 66.8 per cent to $96bn) and volume (177, which is 55 fewer than in 2018).

Sard Verbinnen's work in 2019 has included stock market flotations of Uber and Slack. Asked to respond to the agency's position in the Mergermarket rankings, co-president Andrew Cole said: "We appreciate the trust our clients and fellow advisors put in us to deliver the best outcomes on transactions of all sizes and structures. Our global team is very collaborative across all our nine offices, and we bring our experience from every angle - investors, regulators, employees, and customers - to communicate the merits of every deal."

Selected regional breakdown:

US

Sard Verbinnen maintained its position as the agency that handled the most M&A deals in the US in 2019, although it handled seven fewer than in 2018 (221).

The top three in the table of deals by volume remained unchanged, with Kekst CNC in second place (179), followed by Joele Frank, Wilkinson Brimmer Katcher (175).

In the US deals-by-value table, Sard Verbinnen lost the top spot to Joele Frank, Wilkinson Brimmer Katcher – the former handled deals worth $523.6bn, and the latter $508.9bn.

Kekst CNC moved from sixth to third place in that list, ahead of Brunswick, Abernathy MacGregor Group (AMO), and Finsbury Hering Schuppener GPG.

UK

Brunswick held the top spot in the table of UK deals by value (US$63bn), while Finsbury Hering Schuppener GPG was again in second place ($51.5bn). However, both saw significant drops in the value of deals handled – declines of 58 per cent for Brunswick and 48.5 per cent for the WPP alliance.

Teneo shot up from 12th to third in the table, as it handled transactions worth $44.6bn.

The table of UK deals by volume was topped by FTI (90), Maitland/AMO (73) and Brunswick (59). However, all three handled fewer deals than in 2018.

In the UK deals-by-volume table, 14 of the top 20 agencies handled fewer transactions in 2019 than in 2018.

However, 12 of the top 20 agencies in the UK deals-by-value table recorded an increase in the value of the deals they handled in 2019.

Europe

Across Europe as a whole, Sard Verbinnen moved from fourth to first place in the table that looks at the value of deals ($172.6bn) – although it handled two fewer deals (59) than in 2018.

Sard Verbinnen toppled Brunswick at the top of the table of deals by value ($155.3bn). Finsbury Hering Schuppener GPG was third in the list, with Kekst CNC moving from 16th to fourth place.

FTI and Brunswick were second and third, respectively, in the table of deals in Europe by volume. However, both saw the number of deals on the continent fall by about one-third.

Asia-Pacific (excluding Japan)

Brunswick retained the top spot in the table of deals by value in the region, handling transactions worth $44.7bn in 2019. Prosek Partners shot up the table, rocketing from 69th to third as it oversaw deals worth $24.6bn.

In second place was Finsbury Hering Schuppener GPG ($30.3bn), which moved from sixth to second in the deals-by-volume table (25), behind FTI (32) and ahead of Brunswick and Sard Verbinnen (both 24). The latter agency had topped that table for 2018 transactions in the region.


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