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Chart: CA M&A Activity M&A is on the mend. According to data supplied by the firms and Thomson Financial Securities Data, most California firms saw mergers and acquisitions tick up in the first half of the year. Even better than the numbers on finished transactions, firms say, is the amount of deals in progress. “It’s a very exciting market right now,” said Latham & Watkins partner Scott Haber. “We are seeing more active deal markets in all types of sectors.” Gauged by the number of U.S. company deals where terms were disclosed, Latham led California firms with 55 deals, up 10 percent from a year ago. It also far outpaced its rivals in the dollar value of the deals. It handled deals worth $69 billion, with one deal — Bank of America’s acquisition of Fleet Boston Financial — accounting for $47 billion of the total. Four other California firms — Cooley Godward, Morrison & Foerster, Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe and Pillsbury Winthrop — saw their number of deals at least double, with Pillsbury’s 13 deals representing a 550 percent increase from last year. “The majority of these deals are clearly tech-related,” said Gregg Vignos, co-chair of Pillsbury’s corporate and securities practice group. “Across the board, we’re seeing a robust corporate practice this year.” Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati trailed just behind Latham in number of deals, with 47, a 10 percent drop. Those deals were collectively valued at $8 billion. Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe slipped 33 percent from the first half of 2003, when it completed 18 deals. This year, it has closed 12. Stephen Graham, chair of Orrick’s corporate department, said the data is misleading because Thomson primarily counts public company transactions. “We probably have 20 private company transactions this year,” he said. The other California firms rounding out the top 10 saw increases of between 7 percent and 64 percent. Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich had 37 deals, a 42 percent rise. Diane Frankle, co-chair of the firm’s M&A group, said the Austin and San Diego offices were particularly busy. Frankle noted that buyers were shifting their focus away from the fire sales prevalent during the dot-com bust. “There is still some bargain shopping, but now there is significant momentum for people to do value-building strategic transactions.” Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher closely followed Latham and Wilson with 46 deals, a 64 percent bump. “Corporate activity — M&A and capital markets — were up substantially in both [San Francisco and Palo Alto] offices,” said Jonathan Layne, co-chair of Gibson’s corporate transactions group. Like native firms, out-of-state shops with local outposts unevenly surfed the swell of transaction activity this year, Thomson Financial’s data shows. Jones Day led in U.S. M&A, with 146 deals, a 13 percent increase. Davis Polk & Wardwell had 35 deals, an 85 percent increase. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom had 60 deals, a 9 percent increase, while Simpson Thacher & Bartlett closed 36 deals, a 24 percent increase. Weil, Gotshal & Manges dropped 20 percent to 61 deals. Weil corporate partner Rod Howard said the decline had more to do with lag time between signing a deal and closing than with a slump in M&A work. “Completed transactions were signed three, six or nine months ago. I’d say the general sense is that M&A activity in 2004 is stronger than in 2003.”

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