NEW YORK—Kekst & Company again topped the list of public relations firms handling major mergers and acquisitions accounts in the first six months of this year, according to Corporate Control Alert, which ranks law firms, investment banks, and proxy solicitors as well as PR firms.

The top four firms in the rankings are Kekst (30 total deals); Joele Frank Wilkinson Brimmer Katcher (9 deals); Citigate Sard Verbinnen (3) and Abernathy MacGregor (2). The same firms—specialists in M&A and other high-profile corporate and financial communications assignments—appeared in the same order in the last ranking.

But the fifth spot is almost always a wildcard, and for the first half of 2002 was filled by Edelman Public Relations Worldwide, which handled two deals, representing the acquirer in both cases.

According to Kekst, “While overall M&A transaction activity has been off this year, we are beginning to sense a renewed wave of interest from clients, prospects and referral sources. Most experts believe this will take place when some of the current economic uncertainty and worrisome corporate governance issues work themselves through the system.

“What we can say is that many CEOs and boards are deeply troubled by the continued deterioration of their company’s stock price and feel vulnerable to hostile bidders as well as change of control contests. We think the 2003 proxy season could well be very active and we’re gearing up right now to help a number of companies prepare their strategies.”