First quarter M&A back up to 2007 levels

INVESTMENT banks have seen mergers and acquisitions (M&A) deals bounce back with a vengeance in the first-quarter of 2011, but one of the traditional stalwarts has fallen down the league tables due to its exclusion from major deals.

Morgan Stanley has triumphed in first place on the basis of global M&A volumes – the value of deals the bank worked on – with Credit Suisse topping the European league and JP Morgan winning the US ranking, according to the latest Thomson Reuters figures.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch has jumped up the global M&A table from eighth place last year to third this year, cementing its return to form following the teething pains suffered after the merger between Bank of America and Merrill Lynch in 2008.

BoA Merrill Lynch has pushed Goldman into fourth place globally and it also currently claims top spot in Bloomberg’s European underwriting table.

BoA Merrill Lynch has had a run of underwriting business from Russia, having been on the recent float of VTB, a state lender. One banker put its success down to the stability of the equity capital markets (ECM) business, which has seen a particularly low staff turnover.

Goldman has had a slow start to the year, falling down to fourth from first place in the M&A rankings. A Goldman Sachs spokeswoman said it was still early and added that the bank’s performance should be judged later in the year. She also said that the bank’s move down the Thomson Reuters M&A tables was partly due to its exclusion from the AT&T telecoms deal in the US where it traditionally advises Sprint and from its non involvement in the conversion of preferred stock in AIG.

Nomura, which does not feature in the top ten, says it is still building up a global M&A business and that “for us we are building and are not actively worried about the current tables.”