Barings defies critics by topping M&A league

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The Independent Online
Barings, the bank which was driven to collapse in 1995 by Nick Leeson, has defied its critics and stayed at the top of the league table of mergers and acquisitions advisory work for the second year running.

The bank, which was bought by ING, the Dutch financial services group, achieved this position in a year which has been highly lucrative for corporate financiers.

A record pounds 1.1bn in fees was generated overall, as were bumper bonuses to staff, according to Acquisitions Monthly, the trade magazine.

During 1996 Barings worked on 31 deals worth pounds 11.8bn and 11 of these were public takeovers worth pounds 9.3bn.

The largest mandate was to advise Royal Insurance on its pounds 2.4bn merger with Sun Alliance.

"This proves to the market that the excellent show Barings made in 1995 was not just a flash in the pan. The bank really is a force to be reckoned with," said Philip Healey, editor of Acquisitions Monthly.

Second in the league table is Lazard Brothers, which benefitted from its expertise in hostile bids. The Lazards team advised Granada on its pounds 3.6bn hostile takeover of Forte and Rentokil on its pounds 2.1bn bid for BET.

SBC Warburg, third in the table, was one of the beneficiaries of the pounds 40m dished out by Forte in its desperate, but failed, attempt to avoid Granada's grasp. The bank retained its position in the table despite a wave of defections after the merger between Swiss Bank Corporation and Warburg's last year.

As business boomed during the year, fuelled in part by race to merge ahead of the general election, so did the hiring spree and compensation packages offered.

Merrill Lynch, the US financial firm, hired Guy Dawson from Deutsche Morgan Grenfell and as a result was catapulted into the Acquisitions Monthly top 10.

Deutsche Morgan Grenfell, in contrast, slid from eighth to 14th.

Bill Harrison was tempted to BZW, the investment banking arm of Barclays, from Robert Fleming, on a pay deal worth close to pounds 6m over five years. George Magan, the veteran corporate financier, sold his business, Hambro Magan, to NatWest Markets in a deal which was rumoured to have created as many as 100 millionaires.

In the race to find mergers and acquisitions experts, many professionals were offered guaranteed bonuses because they were hired during the financial year and not, as is more traditional, at the year-end once their bonuses have been paid out.

Top 10 M&A advisers

Adviser Value

pounds m

Baring Brothers (1) 11,789

Lazard Brothers (2) 11,096

SBC Warburg(3) 10,320

Schroders (7) 9,626

NM Rothschild (5) 9,348

Kleinwort Benson (9) 8,987

Hambros Bank (16) 7,825

UBS (20) 7,671

Merrill Lynch (-) 7,661

Goldman Sachs (10) 7,461

Source: Acquisitions Monthly