Vinson & Elkins leads the four Texas firms that were among the nation’s biggest deal-making firms in 2017, grabbing top rankings in data collected for The American Lawyer’s Corporate Scorecard.
V&E was ranked in the top 10 for work on equities, initial public offerings, REITS and corporate debt, and was ranked at the top for representing issuers of non-U.S.-corporations for IPOs. V&E was ranked first by value of issues, with $522.1 million, in that category.
Andrews Kurth Kenyon (Hunton Andrews Kurth following a merger in April with Hunton & Williams,); Baker Botts and McCall, Parkhurst & Horton are also ranked among the top 10 for work in various areas of corporate finance and capital markets work, according to scorecard data.
In addition to its leading ranking for work on non-U.S.-IPOs, V&E was ranked third by value and by number of issues, for representing issuers on IPOs for U.S. corporations. The firm also was ranked third by value, with $2.14 billion, for representing underwriters on REIT equities. Andrews Kurth’s highest ranking was eighth by number for representing underwriters in connection with IPOs for U.S. corporations. Baker Botts’ was ranked third in representing financial advisors in buyouts, and McCall Parkhurst’s highest ranking was fifth by value of $1.32 billion as bond counsel in municipals.
David Oelman, a V&E partner in Houston who is co-head of the firm M&A and capital markets group, said 2017 was a mixed bag for IPOs. He said while some of the firm’s traditional sources of IPOs, such as private equity companies and master limited partnerships, were a little quieter on the IPO front, the firm secured work on some other interesting issues. For instance, Paul Tobias and Wesley Jones, partners in the firm’s Austin office, worked on the $276 million SailPoint Tech Holdings IPO—one of the top 10 Texas IPOs in 2017—and the firm also handled two REIT IPOs in 2017. He said that REIT work came to the firm because the firm expanded its REIT practice with a group of East Coast lateral hires in 2016.
“It was an OK year. It certainly wasn’t 2014 or 2013, but notwithstanding what I think is a relatively modest IPO world, we had good results, which is a good sign,” Oelman said. According to Renaissance Capital, there were 160 IPOs in the U.S. in 2017, with proceeds totaling $36 billion.
The expansion of V&E’s REIT practice is having an impact, Oelman said. V&E was also ranked among the top 10 firms for its work representing both issuers and underwriters on REIT debt and REIT equities issues.
Baker Botts Houston partner Jason Rocha, who is corporate chair in Houston and firmwide deputy department chair for energy, said the firm has a long tradition of representing underwriters in IPOs. He said partner John Davidson of Houston has worked on more than 50 completed IPOs over his career.
He said the firm’s ranking as one of the top firms handling buyouts—deals that include public companies going private—is a reflection of Baker Botts’ M&A practice. While much of the M&A work in Texas is for energy companies, Rocha said the firm has a very large M&A practice outside of Texas, including work for clients such as Liberty Media Corp. The firm represented Liberty Media in its acquisition of Formula 1, a deal that closed in 2017.
Rocha said 2017 was an interesting year for capital markets work. He said the year started out very busy, particularly with work for oilfield services companies, but it tailed off at the end of the year.
Michael O’Leary, a Hunton Andrews Kurth partner in Houston who is co-head of the firm’s corporate team, agreed that corporate finance work, including IPOs, started out strong in early 2017, but the market softened as the year went on due to energy commodity prices. He said the firm worked on two energy industry IPOs early in the year, but a number of offerings that were queued up did not occur.
O’Leary said the firm, which was one of the top 10 firms for representing underwriters in municipals in 2017, has had a solid municipal bond practice for many years. The firm’s team of public finance lawyers is smaller in Texas now, because a group of about 20 Andrews Kurth public finance lawyers left Andrews Kurth prior to the merger with Hunton & Williams to join Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe offices in Texas. However, Hunton & Williams also brought a public finance team to the merger table.
In addition to a list of the Top 10 Texas IPOs in 2017, and the firms representing the issuers and underwriters, Texas Lawyer’s report also includes a chart of the largest deals in 2017 involving at least one Teas company and the firms that worked on those mergers and acquisitions. ALM collected data on the most active firms doing corporate finance and capital markets work in these areas: asset-backed securities, buyouts, high-yield corporate debt, corporate finance, equities, IPOs, M&A, mortgage-backed securities, municipals, project finance, REIT debt and REIT equities. A ranking of the top firms for M&A work in 2017 is include in The American Lawyer’s deal-maker package.