Goldman, Macquarie vie for top spot

Goldman Sachs is just ahead of Macquarie in the race to be the top takeover advisor in Australia.

Just US$37.9 million separates the current number one merger and acquisition advisor in Australia Goldman Sachs Group Inc from Macquarie Group Ltd, currently ranked number two, as both firms seek to end the year as the country’s pre-eminent M&A investment bank.

A little over a month ago, the story was very different. Macquarie was the undisputed number one advisor on pending and completed Australian M&A in the year to September 30.

In the first nine months of 2013, the Sydney-based firm advised on 21 deals worth US$7.46 billion and claimed a 14 per cent M&A market share in Australia, according to Bloomberg data.

Goldman Sachs was ranked fifth with US$4.48 billion despite having advised on 20 deals that garnered it an 8.4 per cent market share, according to Bloomberg.

But since the end of the third quarter, Goldman Sachs has rocketed to the top of the local M&A league table.

In the year to date, the Wall Street firm has advised on US$8.3 billion worth of transactions or 23 deals that has got it a market share of 13 per cent.

Macquarie has the same market share as Goldman Sachs, and advised on one more deal than its rival, while the value of its transactions was US$8.26 billion, according to the data.

Last month was a purple patch for Goldman Sachs’ M&A team.

It was selected as the advisor to the Commonwealth Bank of Australia Ltd as it considers options for its $15 billion property unit, including Commonwealth Property Office Fund which has attracted a $2.7 billion bid by Dexus Property Group and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, as well as the future of CFS Retail Property Trust Group which has total assets of $8.6 billion.

Goldman Sachs was USG Corp’s advisor on its $1.67 billion plasterboard joint venture with Boral Ltd, which was advised by Macquarie and Gresham Advisory Partners.

The New York-based firm has also got a piece of this year’s most contested takeover battle, the fight for Warrnambool Cheese & Butter Factory Ltd.

Goldman Sachs advised Fonterra Cooperative Group Ltd on its purchase of a 6 per cent stake in Bega Cheese Ltd, according to Bloomberg, one of the three companies seeking to buy Warrnambool.

“We think there’s been a significant pick up in M&A interest and we expect the next six months to be stronger than the last six months,” says Rebecca Maslen-Stannage, a partner at Herbert Smith Freehills in Sydney.

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