Dealmakers seek respite following record year for mergers: Reuters

(Reuters) — Investment bankers and lawyers are looking forward to a holiday break after chalking up a record year of mergers and acquisitions, totaling $4.6 trillion, while earning tens of billions of dollars in fees.

After an unprecedented M&A frenzy that enriched their pockets but left them with little personal time, dealmakers are relishing vacations ranging from remote resorts where they will be out of reach to staying at home with their families.

“It’s the type of year where the patience of our loved ones has been the most important factor to get us through because they have certainly put up with a lot. My wife has the patience of a saint,” said Michael DeFranco, chairman of law firm Baker & McKenzie’s global M&A practice.

With close to 40,000 deals announced thus far in 2015, the M&A volume rose 40.8 percent over last year to the record level, according to preliminary Thomson Reuters data, as some of the world’s biggest companies pursued their matches.

As a result, investment banking fees from completed M&A deals globally increased 5 percent year-to-date to $24.5 billion, estimates from Thomson Reuters and Freeman Consulting show.

But the big payouts also came with a relentless schedule, even for the most senior dealmakers. Some said they booked an extra room at hotels while vacationing in order not to disturb their families when they worked on deals late at night.

Tim George, a vice chairman at Lazard Ltd (LAZ.N) who worked on a number of large consumer deals this year, including Heinz’s $46 billion merger with Kraft, will spend part of his holiday with three other families in Yemassee, South Carolina, at his home on a former rice plantation where there is no cell phone service.

“If you need to reach me, call me on the landline,” said George, who skipped a summer holiday in order to keep working.

Most of the obvious mega deals have been explored already, investment bankers and lawyers have said. But they said the number of transactions could increase next year as newly merged companies sell non-core assets and smaller companies consider tie-ups to stay competitive.

“This is an incredible job, but it takes a genuine commitment and comes with real sacrifice. To succeed at home and in the office, you have to make it a part of your life,” said Michael Aiello, chairman of the corporate department of law firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, who this month worked on Dow Chemical Co‘s (DOW.N) $130 billion merger with DuPont (DD.N) and JAB Holding Company’s $13.9 billion acquisition of Keurig Green Mountain Inc (GMCR.O).

“Just after Christmas we are going to go to Aspen to ski for a week. I really look forward to this. I get to spend a lot of time with the kids, and it is not easy to be reached on the slopes. The problem is not my clients or the deals, it is me, I drive myself hard,” said Aiello.