11/9/11-- Miami- White & Case office logo in reception area.
11/9/11– Miami- White & Case office logo in reception area. (J. Albert Diaz)

White & Case ranked No. 1 for M&A globally in league table rankings for legal advisers in 2016, according to data analyzed by Bloomberg and Mergermarket. The latter listed the Am Law 100 firm as working on 319 announced deals last year valued in excess of $665 billion.

The American Lawyer reported in October on White & Case holding the lead in rankings through the third quarter of last year, and the firm’s global head of M&A, John Reiss, has a positive outlook for 2017.

“We have a very pro-business president-elect and that’s engendering more and more confidence,” Reiss said. “That confidence is going to be really good for the M&A environment in the U.S. and, I believe, good for the M&A environment on a global basis. So I’m very optimistic about 2017.”

Bloomberg data had White & Case with more than 16 percent market share of global deals, as the firm handled 275 transactions worth more than $600 billion. White & Case, which last week launched its own interactive M&A research tool, ranked ninth in Bloomberg’s 2015 year-end deal tables. The firm jumped to the top spot in 2016 thanks to its role advising on deals such as Chinese consumer electronics manufacturer Haier Group Corp.’s $5.4 billion acquisition of General Electric Co.’s appliances division.

Sullivan & Cromwell; Cravath, Swaine & Moore; Davis Polk & Wardwell; and Skadden, Arps Slate, Meagher & Flom rounded out the top five firms in Bloomberg’s top listings for legal advisers in 2016. (Bloomberg’s Big Law Business noted that Cravath still scored high marks despite the departure of M&A rainmaker Scott Barshay for Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison.) The same five firms also took the top spots in Mergermarket’s league tables.

According to Thomson Reuters, M&A activity was down by 16 percent globally and 17 percent in the U.S. last year. But Mergermarket noted that M&A activity in the U.S. brought in $1.5 trillion last year, its second-highest value ever recorded.

As previously noted by The American Lawyer, league table rankings are a somewhat imprecise quarterly benchmark for measuring M&A prowess, as different metrics abound and some firms like White & Case can boost their claim to advising on the biggest deals by counseling investment banks and underwriters for large transactions.

In other M&A news

Essilor International SA / Luxottica Group SpA

The world’s largest eyewear manufacturer and retailer are poised to combine as French lens maker Essilor announced Monday its proposed $24 billion acquisition of Italy’s Luxottica, known for its Oakley and Ray-Ban brands. Reuters reported that both companies have been coping with slowing sales amid increased competition from lower-cost rivals and online retailers. Delfin, a Luxembourg-based holding company that controls Luxottica, has turned to two leading firms from Italy and France to advise on the deal, according to sibling publication Legal Week.

Legal Advisers: Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton for Essilor; Bonelli Erede Pappalardo and Bredin Prat for Delfin

Mars Inc. / VCA Inc.

McLean, Virginia-based candy maker Mars announced on Jan. 9 its $7.7 billion acquisition of Los Angeles-based animal hospital chain VCA. Including debt, the deal is valued at $9.1 billion. The proposed purchase of VCA, expected to close in the third quarter of 2017, could help bolster Mars’ pet brands Pedigree and Whiskas as the packaged-food giant struggles with slowing sales.

Legal Advisers: Skadden, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett and McDermott Will & Emery for Mars; Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and Potter Anderson & Corroon for VCA; Cleary Gottlieb for Barclays plc as financial adviser to VCA

DCP Midstream Partners LP / DC Midstream LLC

On Jan. 4, Dallas-based DCP Midstream announced it would pay $3.8 billion to purchase the assets of DC Midstream LLC, a joint venture between Houston-based Phillips 66 and Spectra Energy Corp. The deal will create the largest natural gas producer and processor in the country, one with an enterprise value estimated at $11 billion.

Legal Advisers: Bracewell and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher for DCP Midstream; Andrews Kurth Kenyon and Richards, Layton & Finger for DCP Midstream’s board of directors

CEB Inc. / Gartner Inc

Information technology research and advisory company Gartner announced on Jan. 5 its $2.6 billion cash-and-stock acquisition by Arlington, Va.-based CEB Inc., a publicly traded consulting firm that sells management advice and training services to some of the world’s largest companies. The deal, expected to close in the first half of this year, will broaden Stamford, Connecticut-based Gartner’s research business through the inclusion of CEB’s analysis services in finance, human resources, legal and sales.

Legal Advisers: Kirkland & Ellis for CEB; Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati for Gartner

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. / Intime Retail Group Co. Ltd.

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba announced on Jan. 9 its $2.55 billion bid to buy Chinese department store operator Intime Retail. Hangzhou, China-based Alibaba has teamed up with Intime Retail founder Shen Guojun on the proposed deal, according to sibling publication The Asian Lawyer. The acquisition is an attempt by Alibaba to extend its online reach into brick-and-mortar stores as online sales begin to slow.

Legal Advisers: Slaughter and May for Alibaba; Davis Polk for Intime Retail

Sanchez Energy Corp. / The Blackstone Group LP / Anadarko Petroleum Corp.

Anadarko is exiting its holdings in the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas following the $2.3 billion sale announced on Jan. 12 of 318,00 total acres to joint venture between Houston-based Sanchez Energy and Blackstone. The transaction represents the latest large divestiture by oil and gas producer Anadarko, according to sibling publication Texas Lawyer.

Legal Advisers: Akin Gump for Sanchez; Baker Botts for Intrepid Partners LLC as financial adviser to Sanchez; Kirkland for Sanchez and Blackstone; Andrews Kurth Kenyon for GSO Capital Partners LP, a credit investment platform of Blackstone; Latham & Watkins for Anadarko

CITIC Ltd. / The Carlyle Group LP / McDonald’s Corp.

Oak Brook, Illinois-based McDonald’s, one of the world’s largest restaurant chains, has agreed to sell an 80 percent stake in its China and Hong Kong operations in a $2.1 billion cash-and-stock deal to an investor consortium led by state-owned Chinese conglomerate CITIC. The Asian Lawyer reported that CITIC and its investment arm, CITIC Capital Holdings, will hold a controlling 52 percent stake in the business, while Carlyle will own 28 percent. McDonald’s will retain a 20 percent stake in the partnership, which will seek to increase sales at existing locations and open 1,500 restaurants in the region over the next five years. The deal, announced on Jan. 9, is expected to close in mid-2017.

Legal Advisers: Kirkland for CITIC; Cleary Gottlieb for McDonald’s

L’Oréal / Sanpower Group Co. Ltd. / Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc.

Looking for ways to shed $30 billion in debt, troubled Canadian drug giant Valeant agreed on Jan. 10 to sell three skincare brands and its Dendreon cancer business for about $2.12 billion. French cosmetics giant L’Oréal will pay $1.3 billion in cash for Valeant’s AcneFree, Ambi and CeraVe brands, while Chinese conglomerate Sanpower will pick up Dendreon in an $820 million deal. Both transactions are expected to close in the first half of this year.

Legal Advisers: Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz and Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt for Valeant on the L’Oréal deal; Hogan Lovells for Valeant on the Dendreon deal; DLA Piper for Sanpower; Weil, Gotshal & Manges and Goodmans for L’Oréal

China COSCO Shipping Corp. / Shanghai Sino-Poland Enterprise Management Development Corp. Ltd. / Shanghai Rural Commercial Bank Co. Ltd.

In an effort to backtrack on an Asian expansion that bit away at profits, the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. announced on Jan. 2 the $1.84 billion sale of its 20 percent stake in Shanghai Rural Commercial Bank to China COSCO Shipping and Shanghai Sino-Poland. Each buyer will own a 10 percent stake in the Chinese bank. The deal is expected to close by mid-2017.

Legal Advisers: Clifford Chance for ANZ

KKR & Co. LP / Hitachi Koki Co. Ltd.

KKR announced on Jan. 13 its nearly $1.3 billion deal to buy Japanese conglomerate Hitachi Ltd.’s power tools unit Hitachi Koki. The deal is KKR’s second billion-dollar Japanese deal in three months. Simpson Thacher advised the New York-based buyout giant in November on its $4.5 billion acquisition of auto parts maker Calsonic Kansei Corp.

Legal Advisers: Simpson Thacher and Nishimura & Asahi for KKR; Mori Hamada & Matsumoto for Hitachi