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Morgan Stanley leads as M&A shows signs of life

Morgan Stanley is outrunning archrival Goldman Sachs as 2009's busiest adviser on mergers as optimism grows that the crippling effects of the financial crisis on dealmaking may be easing.

Morgan's strong showing under new merger chief Robert Kindler not only spells prestige and fees, but marks a rebound for the bank after it fell to fifth position in 2008.

Morgan has overtaken Goldman as the top-ranked adviser for both global and US mergers and acquisitions, working on deals worth $490.9 billion so far this year, as global M&A plummeted 41% to $1.392 trillion.

Kindler told Reuters it was “way too early to call the bottom of the M&A market” but said he saw promising signs.

“The two things that are most encouraging is that (strategic buyers) are back doing deals that make industrial sense and the credit markets are back open. That's very good for M&A. The negative is that we have a volatile equity market,” he said in a telephone interview.

The value of deals totaled $369.3 billion in the third quarter, down 54% compared to the same quarter in 2008, according to Thomson Reuters data.

For the year to date, fees for completed deals fell an estimated 57% to $11.9 billion.

European M&A in the year to date has more than halved to $433.8 billion - worse than US and Asian declines of 43% and 38% respectively. (Reuters)