White & Case takes lead on global deals amid 1H M&A surge

4 minute read

The logo of law firm White & Case is seen outside of their office in Washington, D.C., U.S., August 31, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

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  • Firm advised on $363.7 bln in deals in the first half, more than 2020 leader Latham.
  • Goodwin tops charts for most deals, barely beating Kirkland
  • M&A activity driving Big Law compensation race

RALEIGH, NC (Reuters) - With an M&A boom showing no sign of a slowdown, White & Case has taken the top spot among law firms advising on global deals as ranked by deal value, according to data from Refinitiv for the first half of 2021.

Goodwin Procter is the top firm by number of worldwide deals, advising on 460 transactions.

Refinitiv tracked a total of 30,196 announced global M&A deals in the first half of the year, a 29% increase from 1H 2020. The combined value of the transactions was $311.8 trillion.

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New York-based White & Case worked on 264 deals valued at $363.7 billion combined. Among those, it advised Fusion Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company, in its $2.4 billion purchase of fintech firm MoneyLion, and Sempra Energy in its $3.37 billion sale of its infrastructure arm interest to KKR in April.

Sullivan & Cromwell; Latham & Watkins; Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett and Cravath, Swaine & Moore trailed White & Case by total worldwide deal values.

Latham was the top-ranked legal adviser for global M&A for all of 2020 by value with $470 billion in deals.

The Refinitiv data includes all deals on which the firms advised, not just those for which they were principal adviser.

Goodwin Procter, whose 460 deals totaled $91.6 billion, edged out Kirkland & Ellis by a single transaction for the first half. Goodwin helped advise online lending startup SoFi on its $8.65 billion combination with Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings Corp in January.

Latham, White & Case and Sidley Austin were ranked third, fourth and fifth behind Goodwin and Kirkland by number of worldwide deals.

Global M&A activity broke records for a second consecutive quarter in Q2 as companies continued to borrow cheaply and spend their cash reserves on transformative deals to reposition themselves for the post-COVID world.

Deals worth $1.5 trillion were announced in the three months to June 30, more than any second quarter on record and up 13% from the record first quarter of the year, despite lessening activity among blank-check firms, Refinitiv data shows.

"These high levels of activity will likely continue through the summer," Alison Harding-Jones, head of M&A for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Citigroup, told Reuters last week.

The deal-making frenzy has created intense demand for associate talent at top corporate law firms in New York and elsewhere, driving widespread bonus announcements and salary increases, as well as concerns over lawyer burnout.

Read more:

Dealmakers drown in deals in second-quarter M&A frenzy

Elite N.Y. firms are in a battle for talent. Could they all be losing?

SPAC spree continues for law firm quartet with $8.65 bln SoFi deal

Latham leads deal advisor rankings as M&A hits Q1 high

Goodwin Procter leads Q1 pack for mid-market M&A

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Arriana McLymore reports on the business of law, including diversity in the profession, corporate practices, legal education and attorney career life cycles.