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How M&A advisers stacked up in the first quarter

Data: GlobalData Financial Deals Database; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Half of the top investment banks advised on fewer deals in the first quarter than the prior year period, but the deals were bigger.

The big picture: Research from analytics firm GlobalData shows the usual suspects again topped the list of advisers on the biggest M&A deals in the first quarter, but it was their participation in just 2 deals that made the difference: Bristol-Myers Squibb's purchase of Celgene, and Saudia Aramco's deal to acquire a majority stake in Saudi petrochemical company SABIC.

  • JP Morgan, Evercore, Morgan Stanley and Citi advised on the Bristol-Celgene deal, while Citi, JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley advised the Saudi-SABIC deal.

Between the lines: Advisers typically pocket M&A advisory fees that are based on the total transaction value.

  • These fees aren't reflected in the banks' Q1 results since the deals haven't closed yet. But M&A advisory fees for Goldman Sachs, for example, helped offset sluggish trading revenues.

Go deeper: In 2019's M&A market, less is more