Goldman knocks Morgan Stanley off M&A top spot

BY THE thinnest of margins, Goldman Sachs has knocked its deadly rival Morgan Stanley Dean Witter off top spot in the 1999 table of European mergers and acquisitions advisers.

After a record-breaking year, in which the combined value of European M&A deals more than doubled to a record $1,213bn (pounds 750bn), Goldman pipped Morgan Stanley by less than $6bn by advising on deals worth $519bn.

This reverses last year's order for the two houses, which are both advising Vodafone AirTouch on its $149bn bid for Mannesmann, and are acting separately for Bank of Scotland and Royal Bank of Scotland in their rival bids for NatWest.

Third and fourth in the 1999 league tables, which have been compiled by Thomson Financial Securities Data, were Merrill Lynch on $467bn and JP Morgan with $353bn, to complete a US sweep of the top places.

The scores for each firm appear to exceed the total value of the market because principal companies normally employ more than one adviser on a deal.

However, Goldman's dominance of the big deals is emphasised by the fact that its tally of 96 announced transactions for the year was exceeded by six rivals, all of which topped 100.

The leader by that yardstick was Rothschild with 146 deals worth $128bn, followed by Morgan Stanley on 128 deals, Warburg Dillon Read with 112 and Credit Suisse First Boston with 107.

The fact that three out of those four have a strong European influence suggests that the American forces are using their cross-border expertise and financial clout to concentrate on the larger deals.

Europe accounted for 37 per cent of the global M&A market of $3,317bn this year. The American share was 55 per cent and Asia 18 per cent.

The UK was the biggest European market with deals worth pounds 386bn, followed by Germany at pounds 261bn and France on $163bn.