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Bankruptcies Spark an M&A Boom

Advisers scramble to cash in on a wave of corporate and bank restructurings.

One person’s misfortune is another’s opportunity. That is certainly the case in today’s economy. The recession and its associated deleveraging are causing a huge increase in bankruptcies and restructurings and giving investment bankers a welcome flow of advisory work. Global merger activity involving companies in distressed situations, bankruptcy or liquidation surged more than 13-fold, to $398.2 billion, in the 12 months ended in mid-August, even as overall M&A activity fell by 34 percent.

Morgan Stanley tops the league table, advising on 33 deals worth a total of $146.1 billion, but such other perennial M&A powerhouses as Goldman, Sachs & Co. and Bank of America–Merrill Lynch lag. By contrast, European banks, led by UBS, Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank, score big by advising European governments and banks on a rash of multibillion-dollar bank bailouts.

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