JPMorgan, top M&A bank in 1st quarter, buoyed by big deals

NEW YORK Fri Mar 22, 2013 3:18pm IST

A sign stands in front of the JPMorgan Chase & Co bank headquarters building in New York, March 15, 2013. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

A sign stands in front of the JPMorgan Chase & Co bank headquarters building in New York, March 15, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Lucas Jackson

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) is the top adviser on mergers and acquisitions so far in the first quarter, having worked on all four of the largest deals announced since January 1.

The investment bank advised on $130 billion worth of deals through March 20, including the $23.2 billion takeover of H.J. Heinz Co HNZ.N by Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway (BRKa.N) and Brazilian private equity firm 3G Capital.

It came in ahead of archrival Goldman Sachs Group (GS.N), which advised on $118 billion of deals during the same period, according to Thomson Reuters data.

JPMorgan's market share represents nearly 30 percent of the roughly $440 billion in global deal volume so far this quarter, up from 17.5 percent in 2012, when it ranked fourth in the global M&A league table.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAC.N), Credit Suisse Group (CSGN.VX) and Morgan Stanley (MS.N) round out the top five M&A banks in the current quarter, Thomson Reuters data shows.

In addition to the Heinz deal, JPMorgan has been involved in the other largest transactions of the quarter: Liberty Global's (LBTYA.O) $15.75 billion takeover of Virgin Media Inc VMED.O, the $24.4 billion bid to take Dell Inc DELL.O private by founder Michael Dell and buyout firm Silver Lake Partners, and Comcast Corp's (CMCSA.O) $16.7 billion deal to buy General Electric Co's (GE.N) stake in NBC Universal.

Those assignments make JPMorgan the only bank to be involved in all four of this quarter's deals valued at more than $10 billion.

The performance extends JPMorgan's rise in recent years in the fiercely competitive business of M&A advisory, as a long-running slump in deal volume since the 2008 financial crisis has forced many other Wall Street firms to scale back.

"The fact that we've had a period of stability throughout the financial crisis as a firm, on a relative basis, allowed us to stay focused on our clients," said Chris Ventresca, head of North America mergers and acquisitions at JPMorgan Chase.

Ventresca took on the role of running the bank's North America M&A group in 2008, just at the height of the financial crisis.

With risk management capabilities and a large deposit base that helps lower its funding cost, JPMorgan has been seen as one of the safest and best managed Wall Street banks at a time when some rivals required government bailouts or drastic restructuring to survive.

JPMorgan's retail deposits have provided the bank with stable funding compared with key U.S. rivals. The bank has also been largely immune to the mortgage issues still weighing on some banks. The government used JPMorgan to salvage the failed firms of Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual during the financial crisis.

And the bank's financial strength has been shown in the numbers. JPMorgan was the top global investment bank in 2012, generating the biggest fees from M&A advice, equity and debt underwriting combined.

"With a consistent client advisory team and less turnover managing those accounts, it does all pay off in the end because clients know you and trust you," Ventresca said.

(Reporting by Soyoung Kim in New York; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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