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Goldman tops global M&A adviser table

GOLDMAN Sachs has established itself as the most in-demand mergers and acquisitions adviser in the world over the first half of the year, brushing off concerns that the SEC’s high-profile fraud allegations would damage its reputation.

Goldman, which trailed Morgan Stanley in the rankings at this point last year, leapfrogged its arch-rival comfortably during the first six months of 2010, according to the latest Thomson Reuters M&A review. The bank has advised on $189.6bn (£126.7bn) worth of deals over the year to date, 9.7 per cent more than Morgan Stanley with $172.9bn.

The figures also show that Goldman is the adviser of choice on the world’s most valuable M&A deals, since it managed to top the table despite advising on a total of 142 deals, 20 fewer than Morgan Stanley.

The results come as a welcome boost for Goldman after one of the trickiest periods in its history. In April this year, the US Securities and Exchange Commission filed a civil fraud lawsuit against the bank, arguing that it had misled investors as to the level of risk associated with a synthetic collateralised debt obligation (CDO) transaction struck just before the sub-prime mortgage crisis.

The legal action, which came as Goldman was already reeling from the storm over excessive executive compensation, is ongoing. Earlier this week, a US federal judge extended the bank’s deadline for responding to the SEC’s lawsuit until 19 July.

Goldman ranked fourth in the league table of M&A advisers on deals with a European focus. JP Morgan jumped an impressive seven places to top the European rankings for the first half of the year, after advising on 66 deals with a total value of $77.2bn. Deutsche Bank ranked second and Morgan Stanley third for European advice, while last year’s top adviser Credit Suisse fell to fifth place with $57.2bn worth of deals.