Latham & Watkins, Davis Polk top Refintiv IPO advisory league tables amid record issuance

Global IPO activity hits $140bn, 'smashing' previous year-to-date record set in 2007

Latham & Watkins is leading Refinitiv’s league table for advising global IPO issuers, with companies raising a record amount of capital from going public this year.

By May 10th, 670 deals had been issued worldwide worth a record $140.3bn – 53% more than the previous record at this point in the calendar set in 2007 in the run up to the financial crisis. The 670 deals was also the highest number of IPOs year-to-date in more than two decades, according to Refinitv.

That has been a boon for firms advising issuers, with Latham & Watkins working on 18 deals worth $15bn. Likewise, firms advising the banks managing the deals have also had a busy start to the year. Davis Polk & Wardwell currently tops Refinitiv’s global IPO manager legal advisor league table, working on 37 deals worth almost $21bn. 

Lucille Jones, an analyst at Refinitiv, said: “Initial public offerings continue at pace and are on track for a record first half as the number of stock exchange debuts reach the highest level in more than two decades, and the proceeds raised so far this year smash all previous records. The rapid recovery of the stock market, after stocks plunged in response to the spread of Covid-19 last year, encouraged companies to press ahead with IPOs and investor sentiment about future growth opportunities beyond the pandemic has been key to driving activity this year.”

Maples & Calder is currently ranked second in the year-to-date issuer legal advisor league table, working on 21 deals worth just under $14bn. It is followed by Cooley in third place, advising on 22 deals worth $11bn, while Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom is fourth having advised on 15 deals worth $8bn so far this year. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer completes the top five, working on just four deals that were worth almost $7bn combined.

Meantime, Latham & Watkins is ranked second in the manager legal advisor table, working on 25 transactions worth $16bn. Clifford Chance is currently third year-to-date, advising on seven deals worth $12bn, while Beijing-based Commerce & Finance Law Offices is fourth, working on six deals worth just shy of $7bn. Linklaters follows in fifth, advising on seven deals worth almost $6bn.

Data from Refinitiv Deals Intelligence earlier this year showed that mid-sized New York firm Ellenoff Grossman & Schole had cashed in on a record run of special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) IPOs and had advised on more deals than its closest rivals, international giants Kirkland & Ellis and Skadden.

The firm, which lays claim to have had the most active SPAC programme over the last decade, advised on 71 IPOs valued at $17.6bn – either as legal adviser to the issuer or underwriter – in the period to 11 March this year. That is comparable to its entire 2020 tally.

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