Deals at top legal firm hit pounds 5.9m

Linklaters & Paines consolidated its position in the first half of the year as the most successful law firm advising on UK public takeovers. The firm worked on 18 deals worth a total of pounds 5.9m, coming top of the lawyers' mergers and acquisitions league table as it did for the whole of 1996.

Deals the firm advised on included the takeover of East Midlands Electricity by Dominion Resources of the US. It also acted for Chubb Security when it was taken over by Williams Holdings for pounds 1.3bn.

Although Linklaters' position was unchallenged at the top of the pile in the six months to June, others jumped up the table. Ashurst Morris Crisp, fourth last year, was in second place with 11 deals worth pounds 5.46bn. Clifford Chance rose from ninth to third position after advising on six deals worth pounds 4.35bn.

Ashurst Morris advised on the half year's biggest public deal, the pounds 1.5bn acquisition by American Electric Power for its long-time client, Yorkshire Electricity. Its rise, from 13th position at the end of 1995, pushed out former high-flyers Slaughter & May and Freshfields to fourth and fifth place respectively.

The publication by Acquisitions Monthly of the legal league table coincided with figures from the Office for National Statistics showing a decline in the amount spent by overseas companies acquiring British companies in the second quarter compared to the first three months of the year.

Acquisitions by overseas companies of British businesses during the second quarter included the pounds 350m takeover of recruitment consultant Michael Page by Interim Services. That deal and the purchase of Yorkshire Electricity accounted for more than two-thirds of the inward takeover total of pounds 2.7bn.

Spending overseas by British companies was led by Tomkins' pounds 249m acquisition of Stant Corporation and the pounds 238m purchase of Sinter Metals by GKN. The two largest domestic transactions were the acquisition of Howden by Charter for pounds 378m and the merger of Bardon and Camas to form Aggregate Industries for pounds 295m.

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