US bank tops merger league

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The Independent Online
MORGAN STANLEY Dean Witter has become the first American investment bank to top the UK mergers' league tables, confirming the dramatic inroads that big American houses have made into the British market over the past 12 months.

The bank advised on 11 deals worth pounds 19.2bn in 1998 in what was a record- breaking year for UK merger and takeover activity, according to the final annual league table published yesterday by Acquisitions Monthly, the specialist magazine.

More than pounds 90bn worth of deals were struck in the UK last year, overtaking the record set in 1995 when the merger total reached pounds 67.7bn. In volume terms 1998 was the most active year for deals since 1988.

Schroders, among the dwindling band of independent UK-owned houses, came a close second in terms of value of deals done, with Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley's arch-US rival, taking third place with $12.4bn to its credit.

Lazards, which took the top slot in 1997, came fourth while NM Rothschild came ninth.

Piers de Montfort, the head of Morgan Stanley's UK advisory business, said yesterday that the firm's position was boosted by its role in a number of high-profile transactions such as the $45bn BP/Amoco deal, where it advised Amoco, and Commercial Union's pounds 6.8bn merger with General Accident.

The group also advised Astra, the Swedish pharmaceuticals group, in its recent merger with Zeneca of the UK.

Unlike Merrill Lynch and Credit Suisse First Boston, who have both improved their position in the past year, Morgan Stanley has built its UK market position organically rather than by acquiring the existing franchise of an established British merchant bank.