Editor's Letter

Georgina Stanley, Head of Global Research and Reporting

When M&A markets slowed down in the second half of 2022, the positive spin from dealmakers was that at least they got a little respite after the heady heights of the post-pandemic 2021 deal boom.

But when the lull continued and 2023 turned into a year that set all the wrong records in terms of deal values and volumes, any attempts at positive spin were a lot less convincing.

But now, at the halfway point in 2024 and with inflation falling, M&A partners are once again optimistic that things could be about to turn. Certainly, Q1 deal values suggest a market moving in the right direction, even if deal volumes are still lagging.

In the 2024 M&A Yearbook, in association with Taylor Wessing, we speak to leading corporate partners at UK and US firms to find out their thoughts on the year ahead and the way the prolonged slowdown in activity has changed the way deals have to be done in order to go ahead.

It’s a reality that Slaughter and May partners Victoria MacDuff and Richard Hilton grappled with when they advised on one of the biggest announced deals of 2023 – the planned £15bn combination of Vodafone and CK Hutchison’s Three. It’s a deal that will create the biggest mobile network in the UK, if it gets competition clearance. They tell Legal 500 London editor Cameron Purse all about their role for Vodafone.

With competition authorities around the world taking an increasingly aggressive stance towards M&A, and governments worldwide being more protectionist, it’s the perfect time for Legal 500’s US editor Barnaby Merrill to take an in-depth look at what’s happening in the world’s busiest M&A market – the US. He speaks with some of New York’s top antitrust lawyers in our feature.

Elsewhere, in ‘Stress test’ Elisha Juttla speaks to partners at firms from Milbank to Hogan Lovells and Freshfields to Simpson Thacher about the reality of a life under pressure and finds out their tips for staying calm in the midst of a deal. We also have a trio of interviews with market-leading M&A partners Jennifer Bethlehem at Freshfields, Melissa Fogarty at Clifford Chance and Lorenzo Corte at Skadden.

In addition we have updates from partner firms in Argentina, Belgium, the UK and the Philippines.

We hope you enjoy it!

Georgina Stanley

View interactive edition

Blue skies ahead

M&A Yearbook 2024

After two subdued years, global M&A activity is showing signs of recovery. Though large-ticket M&A and private equity deals have been suppressed, Q1 2024 recorded the highest number of large deals per quarter in nearly 24 months1.

Cleared for departure – charting the course for deal optimism

M&A Yearbook 2024

After a dismal 2023 for dealmaking, partners are focusing on the positives, despite lingering economic and geopolitical uncertainties. So is the M&A market ready for takeoff?

‘There is hope that 2024 will be a year of recovery for the M&A market,’ says Gavin Davies, head of Herbert Smith Freehills’ global M&A practice.

AI spy: avoiding bad AI investments

M&A Yearbook 2024

In the wake of recent advances in generative artificial intelligence (AI), AI has shot to the top of the board agenda. No one wants to miss out on this transformative technology – but businesses need to ensure FOMO doesn’t lead to bad investments. Jonny Bethell and Jo Joyce of Taylor Wessing explore the potential pitfalls to avoid in AI acquisitions

The launch of OpenAI’s ChatGPT in November 2022 took a flamethrower to the last AI winter. As users explored the chatbot’s wide-ranging generative AI capabilities to answer questions, draft copy, write code and more, it dawned on many businesses that this technology could be a game changer for how they operated. The challenge is pinpointing …

Dialling in the deal – the inside track on the Vodafone/Three merger

M&A Yearbook 2024

The planned tie-up between Vodafone and Three UK stood out in last year’s stuttering M&A market. Here, Slaughter and May M&A partners Victoria MacDuff and Richard Hilton, lead counsel for Vodafone, tell Legal 500 London editor Cameron Purse all about the deal

Whatever metric you track, 2023 was a poor year for M&A. One bright spark amid the gloom was the proposed £15bn merger between Vodafone UK and Three UK, which was announced in summer 2023. If cleared by competition authorities, the deal will create the UK’s biggest mobile phone operator.

Perspectives: Melissa Fogarty

M&A Yearbook 2024

‘I pinch myself (most days!)’ – Clifford Chance’s London corporate co-head Melissa Fogarty on memorable deals, embracing technology and why she would absolutely recommend a career in M&A law

Why did you decide to become an M&A lawyer, and has it lived up to expectations? M&A was the fourth seat of my training contract at King & Wood Mallesons. Until then, I was going to be a litigator.

Getting exit ready

M&A Yearbook 2024

Multiple signs are pointing to an increasing momentum around M&A activity. If you’ve been holding out for better conditions to sell your business, now is the time to make sure you’re exit ready. Taylor Wessing’s Emma Danks, Suzy Davis and Siobhán Langwade outline key areas of focus and practical matters

Multiple signs are pointing to an increasing momentum around M&A activity. If you’ve been holding out for better conditions to sell your business, now is the time to make sure you’re exit ready. Taylor Wessing’s Emma Danks, Suzy Davis After record highs in 2021, global M&A activity in 2022 and 2023 fell significantly, both in …

The real deal – the firms dominating the rankings for M&A

M&A Yearbook 2024

From premium, multibillion-pound practices to national players handling heavy
volumes of transactional matters, the Legal 500’s M&A rankings cover the full
gamut of the deals market

The Legal 500’s London M&A rankings are among the most competitive across the entire UK guide, with high-profile dealmakers vying for position among the upper echelons of the market, national practices competing for recognition in the mid-market, and smaller, specialist teams hoovering up lower-value – but just as complex – transactions for acquisitive clients.

Capitalising on opportunities in the Philippines

M&A Yearbook 2024

Gorriceta Africa Cauton & Saavedra lawyers led by Mark S. Gorriceta (managing partner), Kristine T. Torres (partner) and Kathleen T. Guiang (mid level associate) explore the challenges, cross-border elements and post acquisition disputes for M&A transactions in the Philippines

Can you describe your expertise with M&A transactions within the Philippines? How does the Philippine legal and regulatory framework influence your approach? Our firm, Gorriceta Africa Cauton & Saavedra, a top-tier full-service law firm in the Philippines, has extensive experience in providing legal and transactional advisory services for M&A deals, representing either the buy or …

Stress test – partners on how they deal with a life under pressure

M&A Yearbook 2024

Long and unpredictable hours can make transactional work hard to reconcile with mental health considerations. Elisha Juttla and Holly McKechnie spoke to City partners about how they keep things in check – and why the industry still needs to change

‘The personality types attracted to law often highly value accuracy and delivering the “perfect” answer, but that single-minded goal can be almost impossible in our business – it’s something that can be detrimental to your health and your relationships with your team and family.’

Understanding mergers and acquisitions in Argentina

M&A Yearbook 2024

Rafael Salaberren Dupont, Juan Manuel Campos Álvarez, and Diego D’Odorico of SyLS discuss the processes, challenges, and prospects for M&A in Argentina

Can you outline the primary legal framework governing mergers and acquisitions in Argentina? How does it differ from other major jurisdictions? The Argentine Civil and Commercial Code, the Companies Act and the Securities Act (when dealing with public companies), govern the main aspects of M&A transactions in Argentina. It is important to note that parties …