THE past 12 months have seen a boom in M&A as we have emerged from the downturn, with the Kraft-Cadbury deal filling endless column inches.?Elsewhere, Santander’s onward march continued. Other deals brokered by our short list were perhaps not so high-profile, but just as impressive in their own sectors.

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As chairman of Cadbury, the 62-year-old had a central role in one of the most dramatic M&A deals of recent times, when Kraft launched a bid for the British confectioner. He stood up to the aggressive American tactics and by the time he shook hands on a deal with the formidable Irene Rosenfield at the offices of Lazards in Mayfair, the 62-year-old had fought tooth and nail to win his shareholders a decent deal. A tough cookie.


When Cadbury was facing a hostile bid from Kraft, the crack team of City advisers to defend it included Goldman Sachs “superwoman” Cook. For a decade she has been one of the most powerful women in the City, formerly working at Schroders before becoming a managing director of Goldman Sachs International, a job she juggles with a role as a non-executive director at Tesco. The Cadbury defence has cemented her reputation.


The managing director of corporate broking at Bank of America Merrill Lynch has long been the go-to man for the mid-cap energy and power sector. When the gutsy British start-up Tullow wanted to raise £1bn to fund buying rights to exploration on the shores of Lake Albert, he was one of their major advisers. The successful conclusion of the deal earlier this year saw Tullow move into the premier league of oil explorers.


He may no longer be “Big Clive” after he trimmed a few inches from his waistline, but his deals – and profits – are still sizeable. With just three O-levels to his name he is a City outsider, but that has not damaged his career. Resolution, his insurance buyout company that made a fortune buying up “zombie” insurance funds, in its latest incarnation recently announced a £139m profit this year after buying both Friends Provident and most of Axa’s UK life operations. Cowdrey plans to buy and merge four more UK life assurers by 2013.


The Portuguese banker says he has swum with sharks 100 times, an experience which perhaps stood him in good stead when it came to dealing with the financial crisis. The man who has been head of Santander in the UK since 2004 kept his cool and oversaw the acquisition of Alliance and Leicester and Bradford and Bingley. More recently, he negotiated the purchase of 318 high street bank branches from RBS. More than anybody else, Horta-Osario is responsible for making Santander a household name in the UK.