Goldman Sachs Back at Top in M&A

Fraud charges and criticism over bonus payments have not hurt Goldman Sachs Group's (GS) position as a global mergers and acquisitions powerhouse. In the first half of 2010, Goldman was No.1 in deals during the period, playing an advisory role on $190 billion in transactions. According to data from Reuters, global M&A market transactions totaled $976 billion from January 1 to June 22.

Goldman slipped behind rival Morgan Stanley last year, but in 2010, Reuters said Goldman worked on five of the year's 10 largest deals, more than any rival except Morgan Stanley, advising American International Group (AIG), American Life Insurance, Coca-Cola (KO), Schlumberger (SLB), Novartis (NVS), and Allegheny Energy (AYE). Other financial firms in the top 10 for global M&A include Morgan Stanley (MS) -- which last year bumped GS from the No. 1 spot, JP Morgan (JPM), Bank of America (BAC), and Deutsche Bank.

It's hard to draw any conclusion from the news about Goldman other than that clients are willing to disregard the SEC and Justice Department issues that the firm faces. Clients appear to value expertise that they feel will get them the best deals possible in M&A transactions. Goldman may do better financially in the current quarter than many analysts believed.

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