The global M&A market isn't going too well at the moment. According to Howard Chen, an analyst at Credit Suisse, the M&A deal pipeline is at its lowest level for 11 years. In the first half of this year, global M&A value fell 12.5% compared to the first half of 2012 - which in retrospect may have been the peak of the recent cycle.
M&A-focused banks and boutiques are suffering as a result of the downturn: first quarter profits at Lazard fell 40% year-on-year, for example. But even in this arid deal desert, some smaller boutiques have still worked on the biggest deals with the biggest banks. We've listed them below.
If you're an M&A banker who wants to get out of a universal bank, these are the ten top boutiques to work for now.
1. Lion Tree Advisors
What? A U.S. based advisory boutique launched last year by two former UBS investment bankers.
What have they been working on? Liberty Global's $24bn bid for Virgin Media. Michael Dell's $20bn bid for Dell Inc.
2. Moelis & Co
What? An independent M&A advisory house founded by veteran Wall Street deal maker Ken Moelis in 2007.
What have they been working on? Thermo Fisher Scientific's $15bn bid for Life Technologies. Hellenic Financial Stability Fund's $8bn bid for EFG Eurobank Ergasias. Berkshire Hathaway and 3G's $27bn bid for Heinz.
3. Perella Weinberg
What? An M&A boutique founded in 2006 by veteran bankers Joseph Perella and Peter Weinberg.
What have they been working on? Vodafone's $13bn acquisition of Kabel Deutschland Holding.
4. Guggenheim Partners
What? A 'global financial services firm' that's now chaired by Alan Schwartz, a former CEO of Bear Stearns.
What have they been working on? Pfizer's $12bn acquisition of Zoetis Inc.
5. Centerview Partners
What? A boutique investment bank founded in 2006 and led by Wall Street veterans, including Blair Effron, former vice chairman of UBS and Stephen Crawford, a former co-president of Morgan Stanley.
What have they been working on? Newscorp's $9bn acquisition of New Newscorp Inc. And Comcast Corporation's $17bm bid for NBC universal media.
6. Leonardo & Co
What? A European boutique investment bank employing a selection of ex-investment bankers from UBS, Lazard, Credit Suisse and JPMorgan.
What have they been working on? Joh A Benckiser SE's $9bn bid for DE Master Blenders.
7. Greenhill & Co
What? An independent investment bank focused on M&A.
What have they been working on? Actavis Inc's $8bn bid for Warner Chilcott.
8. Qatalyst Group
What? A boutique investment bank founded by Frank Quattrone, the former head of technology investment banking at Credit Suisse.
What have they been working on? Bain Capital, GIC Special Investments, Golden Gate Capital; and Insight Venture Partners' $7bn bid for BMC Software Inc.
9. Intermonte Securities Corporate Finance
What? An Italian M&A and equity capital markets boutique.
What have they been working on? Atlantia SpA's $4bn bid for Gemina SpA.
10. M&A International
What? 'An integrated alliance of industry-leading advisory and finance firms with transactional experience around the world.'
What have they been working on? Various small deals, listed here. M&A International ranked 14th among European dealmakers by volume in the first half according to MergerMarket.