3 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS – APRIL 2024 WWW.LEGALBUSINESSONLINE.COM THE BRIEFING: YOUR MONTHLY NEED-TO-KNOW GLOBAL M&A PICKS UP IN Q1 (Reuters) Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) bounced back in the first quarter after a downbeat 2023, thanks to the return of mega deals, cheering investment bankers and lawyers waiting for a pick-up. Total M&A volumes globally climbed 30 percent to about $755.1 billion, according to the most recent data from Dealogic. The number of transactions worth more than $10 billion jumped to 14, compared with five during the same period last year. Investment bankers said boardroom confidence for dealmaking has improved on the back of strong earnings, potential interest rate cuts this year and an ebullient market. “When you see larger deals happening, it’s a much more direct sign of the returning health of the market, because boards and CEOs, due to the nature of large deals, are going to be more conservative when they approach them,” said Blair Effron, co-founder of investment bank Centerview Partners. “We do think that the activity that we see today is heading in the right direction.” U.S. M&A volumes surged 59 percent to $431.8 billion. European deals jumped 64 percent, while Asia-Pacific volumes slumped 40 percent. 7 AFTER FLURRY OF LARGE DEALS 7% - Fall in global IPO volumes year-on-year, according to research from EY, which said that proceeds were up 7 percent. A total of 287 deals raised $23.7 billion worldwide. A recent report from Fairfax Associates shows a significant uptick in U.S. law firm merger activities in the first quarter of 2024, with a particular focus on small and midsize firms. The consultancy firm tracked 20 completed mergers during this period. This represents a 25 percent increase over the 16 mergers reported in the first quarter of 2023, signalling a robust start to the year for law firm consolidations. According to Fairfax, one of the standout mergers of the quarter was the combination of Clevelandbased Ulmer & Berne, with 175 attorneys, merging with St. Louisbased Greensfelder Hemker & Gale, which has a roster of 140 lawyers, to form UB Greensfelder. Other notable mergers include the union of Atlanta’s Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton with Chicago’s HMB Legal Counsel, Kansas City’s Spencer Fane with Salt Lake City’s Snow Christensen & Martineau, and Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney’s merger with RatnerPrestia. U.S. LAW FIRM MERGERS SURGE IN Q1 OF 2024 Median net profit margins for UK firms in 2023, down from 22.3 percent in 2022. Firms with turnover below 2 million pounds ($2.5 million) saw the largest fall, from 30.6 percent to 24.4 percent. 21% IN THE NEWS Paul Hastings came in at last place on website RollOnFriday’s Best Law Firms to Work At 2024 list, which ranks working cultures at the UK offices of law firms from best to worst. At the top were Burges Salmon and Michelmores. “STAYING SILENT OR DOING NOTHING COULD ACCIDENTALLY GIVE MORE POWER TO THOSE WHO MEAN TO DO HARM.” QUOTE UNQUOTE Hervé Ekué has been elected as managing partner of A&O Shearman, making him the first Black leader of a Magic Circle law firm. Sandie Okoro, general counsel of Standard Chartered, said it was a “big deal for the legal sector, albeit long overdue.” More than 600 Indian lawyers write to DY Chandrachud expressing concern over what they perceive as a threat to the judiciary’s integrity. IN THE NEWS