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P/> NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Goldman Sachs (GS) - Get Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. Report, Citigroup (C) - Get Citigroup Inc. Report and Morgan Stanley (MS) - Get Morgan Stanley Report shared the top three spots for providing advisory services on global mergers and acquisitions over the past three months, but activity was the slowest since the third quarter of 2004, Dealogic says.

Total acquisition activity for the third quarter was $490.6 billion, a drop of 18% from the second quarter and 41% from the comparable period in 2008. Volume reached 8,204 deals, according to Dealogic's tally.

The finance sector was the most-targeted industry for the three months ending Sept. 30, with $76 billion, or 15% of the quarter's volume, followed by the technology and healthcare sectors respectively.

Goldman advised on 59 deals totaling $105.5 billion in value. Citi advised on 56 deals totaling $92.8 billion in value, while Morgan Stanley advised on 66 deals with a total value of $92.5 billion.

JPMorgan Chase

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came in fourth place. While the company advised on the most number of deals at 84, the cumulative value of those transactions was just $76 billion. For the whole of the first nine months of 2009, the top deal advisors globally were in order of rank Goldman, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan, and Citi, Dealogic says.

Still, Wall Street was encouraged by the amount of new deals coming to the market during the quarter.



$19.8 billion hostile bid for U.K. candymaker


was ranked as the largest deal in the quarter.

Other notable deals included


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$4 billion agreement to acquire

Marvel Entertainment



Baker Hughes'


$5.5 billion takeover of

BJ Services

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and Japanese drug maker Dainippon Sumitomo Pharma's $2.5 billion purchase of




This week alone,


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announced plans to buy

Affiliated Computer Services


, while

Abbott Laboratories

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said it would buy Solvay's pharmaceutical unit.

Asset sales were also a big part of the action in the third quarter.

For instance,

Bank of America

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announced it was selling a portion of its Columbia Management unit to


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for as much as $1.2 billion.

--Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.