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J.P. Morgan, RBC Capital Markets are top 2019 utility M&A advisers

J.P. Morgan Securities LLC was the top financial utility mergers and acquisitions adviser by total transaction amount in 2019, covering $6.49 billion through three deals, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence. Meanwhile, RBC Capital Markets LLC advised on the most utility M&A deals in 2019, guiding five transactions totaling roughly $2.43 billion.

The JPMorgan Chase & Co. subsidiary's ranking was sealed by advising UGI Corp. in its acquisition of a majority stake in retail propane marketer and distributor AmeriGas Partners LP for approximately $5.05 billion at time of completion. The biggest deal for RBC Capital Markets was ENMAX Corp.'s pending acquisition of Emera Maine for nearly $1.30 billion, in which RBC Capital Markets is advising Emera Inc.

In terms of total deal amount, Perella Weinberg Partners LP was the No. 2 financial adviser for utility M&A thanks to subsidiary Tudor Pickering Holt & Co. advising AmeriGas on its deal with UGI. Bank of America Securities, a Bank of America Corp. company; Lazard Freres & Co. LLC and RBC Capital Markets rounded out the top five financial advisers by transaction or deal amount.

In the ranking by number of transactions, J.P. Morgan Securities took second place with three deals, followed by CIBC World Markets Corp., Barclays Capital Inc. and TD Securities (USA) LLC, all of which advised on two deals in 2019.

For legal advisers, Baker Botts LLP advised on the most utility deals with the largest total transaction amount. The law firm worked on five M&A deals collectively valued at about $10.97 billion in 2019.

Latham & Watkins LLP and Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP rounded out the top three legal advisers by number of deals and total deal amount in 2019. Latham & Watkins advised on four deals with a total transaction amount of more than $7.01 billion, while Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom served on four transactions worth about $6.33 billion during the same period.

The utility sector's M&A activity for 2019 was slower in comparison to 2018, as the industry saw a quieter market with fewer corporate targets. However, smaller acquisitions helped enliven deal activity over the course of the year.

During the fourth quarter of 2019, Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp. subsidiary Liberty Utilities Co. announced plans to acquire New York American Water Co. from American Water Works Co. Inc. for about $608 million. CIBC World Markets and Husch Blackwell LLP are advising Algonquin Power as financial and legal advisers, respectively, while Wells Fargo Securities LLC and Holland & Knight LLP are serving American Water as financial and legal advisers.

Asset-based transactions also added momentum to utility M&A in 2019. For example, an investor group comprised of KKR & Co. Inc. and Alberta Investment Management Corp. agreed to acquire a 65% interest in the Coastal GasLink pipeline project from TC Energy Corp. for an undisclosed amount. HSBC Securities (Canada) Inc. and TD Securities are serving as financial advisers for the investor group, with Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP providing support as the investors' legal adviser. RBC Capital Markets is assisting TC Energy's side as the company's financial adviser.

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