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Sandler keeps lead in bank M&A financial adviser rankings in 2018

Editor's note: S&P Global Market Intelligence has reclassified industries according to the Global Industry Classification Standard. The league tables Data Dispatches are now based on the new industry classification and are not comparable with 2017 and prior league table Data Dispatches.

For the fourth year in a row, Sandler O'Neill & Partners LP clinched the top financial adviser spot for bank and thrift M&A in terms of deal value and number of deals, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence's league table rankings for 2018.

In total, Sandler O'Neill & Partners advised on 62 bank and thrift M&A deals with $18.25 billion in deal credit. Based on deal value, the firm's largest fourth-quarter 2018 assignment was serving as financial adviser to Atlanta-based Fidelity Southern Corp. in its $750.7 million pending sale to Moultrie, Ga.-based Ameris Bancorp.

Keefe Bruyette & Woods Inc., which worked on 12 depository M&A assignments in the fourth quarter of 2018, ranked second in deal value and number of deals for full year 2018, with $10.41 billion in deal credit from 42 transactions. For the Stifel Financial Corp. unit, its largest assignment in the fourth quarter of 2018 was serving as an adviser to Birmingham, Ala.-based National Commerce Corp. in its $850.6 million pending sale to Winter Haven, Fla.-based CenterState Bank Corp.

The two firms were also on opposite sides of several deals in the fourth quarter of 2018. KBW advised the buyer while Sandler O'Neill & Partners advised the seller in Richmond, Va.-based Union Bankshares Corp.'s $618.0 million pending deal for Reston, Va.-based Access National Corp. The two financial advisers also worked on Muncie, Ind.-based First Merchants Corp.'s $290.9 million pending acquisition of Monroe, Mich.-based MBT Financial Corp., among other deals.

Rising from ninth place in 2017, Citigroup Global Markets Holdings Inc. came in third in the deal value rankings, advising on two deals in 2018 worth a total of $4.74 billion.

Among legal advisers, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP prevailed as the top legal adviser by deal value for bank and thrift M&A in 2018, up from its No. 10 spot in 2017. In terms of number of deals, Luse Gorman PC finished in first place after advising on 22 transactions.

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