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Skadden Leads in First Quarter M&A Work As Uncertainty Looms

April 1, 2020, 10:12 PM

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom advised on the largest volume of global M&A deals as principal in the first quarter of 2020, as the markets faced virus-related uncertainty, and M&A activity overall dropped 31.5% compared to Q1 of last year.

According to the newly released Global M&A league tables from Bloomberg, Skadden led the way working as principal adviser on deals worth a total of $80.5 billion by volume. Freshfields was a close second, working as lead advisor in deals worth $77.2 billion. Latham & Watkins clocked in at third, advising as the principal firm in deals worth $69.8 billion.

Skadden also took the No. 1 spot for overall deal volume—a broader metric that includes specialized deal-related work beyond a principal role, like antitrust or executive compensation.

The firm has advised on several well-publicized deals over the last three months.

These include Morgan Stanley’s all-stock acquisition of the discount brokerage E*Trade Financial Corp. in February, a $14.5 billion total-value deal. The firm also worked on Aon PLC/UK’s pending purchase of Willis Towers Watson PLC. The deal, worth a total of $31.4 billion, combined what were then the second and third-largest insurance brokers, turning the new entity into an industry leader.

Three different firms cleared 100 deals as principal advisor in the first quarter of 2020, according to the league tables. Goodwin Procter led deal count with 108 deals. Kirkland & Ellis and Jones Day tied for second place in the rankings, each acting as top advisor in 103 deals.

Aside from a drop off in M&A deals in comparison to the first three months of 2019, private equity also slowed. PE activity dropped 23.9 % from Q1 of last year, according to the league tables.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sam Skolnik in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jessie Kokrda Kamens at; Rebekah Mintzer at