Europe's top 25 mid-market financial M&A advisors and firms

29 July 2019 5 min. read

In the first half of 2019, more than 8,000 deals worth over $122 billion in transaction value were closed in Europe’s mid-market segment. Deloitte, PwC and KPMG were the continent’s most active financial M&A advisors.

Globally, the number of deals with a value up to $500 million (mid-market) that closed in the first six months of the year reached a total of nearly 22,000, according to data sourced from Refinitiv. Combined, these transactions generated a deal value of $424.6 billion. While the large majority of these deals was closed by corporates, private equity involvement continues to grow its stake in the deal-making landscape. Private equity-backed mid-market M&A deals totalled $71.3 billion, an increase of 11% – despite a 13% drop in deal volume – compared to a year ago and the strongest first half on record. 

Practically every deal closed – whether it is an acquisition, a merger, repurchase, spin-off or debt restructuring – is supported by external M&A specialists. These experts support with a range of deal-making facets, including investment banking, corporate finance, strategic and financial advisory, due diligence, transaction support, legal advisory, and tax and fiscal advisory. 

Financial advisors play an integral role in the M&A process. They are tasked with designing and executing merger & acquisition transactions, including identifying targets and approaching them, assessing the value of targets (valuation), supporting the financial due diligence process, structuring the transaction and assisting in drafting all necessary documents such as the Share Purchase Agreement, Asset Purchase Agreement and Shareholders Agreement. Due to their central role, financial advisors in most cases also coordinate and supervise the activity of all the advisors / professionals involved in the transaction.

Europe's top 25 mid-market financial M&A advisors

Most active financial advisors

Deloitte is according to Refinitiv data Europe’s most active – and hence arguably important – financial advisor. The corporate finance arm of the accounting and consulting giant completed 166 deals in H1 2019, 24 more than in the same period the year previous, enabling the consulting firm to jump from fourth to pole position. The Big Four firm owes its top position much to its M&A teams in Germany, the Netherlands and the Nordics, where they rank first overall. In Spain and Eastern Europe, Deloitte ranks second, and while the firm’s UK M&A team ranks third in the country, it is Deloitte’s most active European practice in terms of deal volume.

Arch rival PwC is Europe’s second most important financial M&A advisor, a position it has maintained vis a vis the year previous. KPMG, the market leader of 2018, has dropped to third overall in deal volume, however, its corporate finance wing has by a distance the highest deal value of the top performing trio, at $2.8 billion, compared to $1.8 and $1.9 billion respectively for Deloitte and PwC. 

Europe’s number four is Rothschild & Co, an investment bank controlled by the French and British branches of the well-known Rothschild family. Not unsurprisingly, Rothschild & Co ranks highly in France (the #1 player, ahead of Credit Agricole and Lazard) and the UK (where it supported 28 deals, more than double the number advised on by Barclays or JP Morgan). Meanwhile, Rothschild & Co is the absolute king of deal value, with over $9 billion noted, over $3 billion more than Lazard, the number two in this respect. 

The top five is rounded off by Clairfield International, an international corporate finance association of member firms that focus on the mid-market segment. The network has around 320 staff across offices in 22 countries, of which more than half are based in Europe. In France, Germany, Spain and the Nordics, Clairfield International managed to rank within the top ten. 

Completing the list of the ten most active financial M&A advisors in Europe are KBS Corporate Sales (a UK player and the top performer in the UK), IMAP and Oaklins (both are associations of member firms), EY (the fourth of the so-called Big Four accounting and consulting firms) and Lazard (the firm’s main European offices are in Paris and London).

Other financial deal-makers that belong to Europe’s crème de la crème include investment bankers from Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Citi, Houlihan Lokey, Barclays, Credit Agricole, Morgan Stanley and BNP Paribas, M&A advisors from accounting heritage firms Grant Thornton and RSM, and financial advisors from specialist M&A networks Lincoln International, Alantra and Clearwater International. Two specialist brokers also rank among the top 25: Bruce & Company, a UK-based broker of retail businesses, hotels and restaurants, and Redwoods Dowling Kerr, a broker for healthcare and childcare businesses.