Goldman Sachs tops table as premier M&A adviser

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The Independent Online

Goldman Sachs has shrugged off months of adverse publicity to become the most successful mergers and acquisitions adviser so far this year, raking in almost $1bn (£668m) in the process.

The Amercian group was sharply criticised for its bonus payments and for quotes by its chief executive Lloyd Blankfein that the bank was doing "God's work". It also faces a fraud case brought by US regulators. But according to data from Thomson Reuters, this has not put off its clients. Goldman gave advice on the most valuable M&A deals completed in the first six months of the year. The bank was invlolved in 145 deals worth a total of $196.8bn, moving it up from the second place it occupied last year.

Goldman has overtaken last year's M&A leader Morgan Stanley, although its US rival advised more clients, and earned an estimated $940.2m in fees this year, according to the Thomson Reuters/Freeman study. The results are surprising, given that Goldman's reputation has suffered badly during the credit crunch. It was described as a "great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into everything that smells like money" by a writer for Rolling Stone magazine.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission further undermined its standing in April when it laid charges against Goldman, alleging that the bank misled investors about complex financial products known as collateralised debt obligations. The bank is contesting the charges.

It is also considering an ad campaign in an attempt to improve its image. Lucas Van Praag, Goldman's chief spokesman, said that while the company advertisised already, "we are dealing with whole new audiences. In the fallout of the financial crisis, much has been politicised and consumers are receiving information second hand. Advertising is a classic way of speaking to them directly."

Goldman topped the list despite not working on the top three deals of 2010 so far. Its biggest was Coca-Cola's $13bn move for the North American operations of bottler Coca-Cola Enterprises.