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19 April 2021

Latham & Watkins and Linklaters top Refinitiv's global capital markets advisory rankings

First quarter activity surges, with records set in global junk bond issuance and IPOs

By Ben Edwards

Wall street skyscrapers


Latham & Watkins and Linklaters topped Refinitiv’s legal advisory league tables for global capital markets activity in the first three months of the year, which saw record-breaking quarters for junk bonds and equity capital markets deals.

Latham & Watkins topped the issuer advisory rankings by both deal value and deal count, working on 109 debt, equity and equity-related transactions worth $104bn. Meantime, Linklaters topped the ranking by deal value and deal count for advising the banks managing debt, equity and equity-related transactions, working on 212 deals worth $190bn.

High-yield bond issuance hit a record in the first quarter, with junk-rated borrowers issuing $205bn of debt – contributing to the $2.5tr of bonds issued in total globally, according to Refinitiv’s 1Q21 Global Capital Markets review. Total debt capital markets issuance was flat compared to the same period last year when borrowers were quick to raise debt in response to the coronavirus pandemic, but it was 25% higher than the fourth quarter of 2020.

Meantime, ECM activity hit $346bn in the opening three months of the year, more than double what was seen during the same period in 2020 and the best start to a year since records began in 1980. Some 1,889 equity transactions were brought to market in the first quarter, a 96% increase compared to the opening period of last year when equity deals ground to a halt amid concerns about the pandemic. Global initial public offerings, excluding SPACs, hit almost $101bn in the first quarter – also the fastest start to a year on record. Secondary offerings also hit a first quarter record of $178bn.

Latham & Watkins climbed four places from a year ago to rank first by deal value for advising issuers, followed by Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, which worked on 42 deals worth $83bn. Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom rose 11 places to third, advising on 61 deals worth $63bn, while Linklaters edged up two places to fourth, advising on 66 deals worth just short of $59bn. Sullivan & Cromwell completed the top five, working on 44 deals worth $58bn. 

Meantime, Linklaters edged up one place from a year ago to take the top spot by deal value for advising transaction managers, followed by Davis Polk & Wardwell, which advised on 198 deals worth $174bn. Allen & Overy slipped from first to third, working on 185 deals worth $144bn, while Simpson Thacher & Bartlett was a non-mover in fourth having advised on 80 deals worth $107bn. Latham & Watkins took fifth spot for advising on 150 deals worth $86bn. 

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