19:14, June 27 438 0

2017-06-27 19:14:07
Ashurst financials pick up for first time since Australian merger

Ashurst has reported its first positive financial results since it merged with Australian firm Blake Dawson in 2013.

After two years of declining profits and turnover, Ashurst said its average profit per equity partner (PEP) had risen 11 per cent from £603,000 to £672,000.

The firm’s global turnover enjoyed an uplift of 7 per cent, growing from £505m to £541m.

Ashurst has not reported on a like-for-like basis and is expected to have benefited from the strength of the Australian dollar against sterling. According to the latest figures, a total of A$100 converts to £58.20. However, this time last year, it would have converted to just £49.40.

Despite the growth, Ashurst is still far behind levels reported in the firm’s first combined results with its Australian arm in 2013/14. In the first year of integration, Ashurst had turnover of £586m and PEP totalling £801,000.

The largest decline came in the 2015/16 financial year, when PEP declined by 19 per cent.

Managing partner Paul Jenkins, who has now been in the role for over 12 months, said: “I set clear targets in relation to revenue growth and profitability, and we’re pleased to have met those targets.”

He added: “Our revenue has come down since the merger because we’re a smaller and more focused firm, and this means our revenue per partner has gone up.

“We went into a significant period of investment post-merger, which impacted profitability. My goal was to lift significantly both profitability and revenue, and we have delivered that.”

Following the firm’s disappointing financial results in 2014/15 and 2015/16, Jenkins embarked on a number of initiatives to turn the ship around.

New chief financial officer Jan Gooze-Zijl pointed towards a number of gains, including the improved use of financial reporting that has also helped to increase partner engagement.

“There’s been much better tracking of the metrics and increased financial discipline,” he said. “This has included improved processes and technology to deliver work in a more efficient way.”

Ashurst has had a tumultuous 2016/17 full of partner exits, remuneration overhauls, office closures and office openings. Partner exits have more or less calmed down in London – the last notable exits was a real estate duo to Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson – although the firm’s Paris office has seen two heavy rounds of exits to Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Gibson Dunn & Crutcher.

Last June, Ashurst closed down in Rome after a review of its Italian operations. Ashurst shut down in Sweden the week before, in a move that saw four partners and 30 members of staff join local firm Hamilton.

Remuneration changes have further summed up Ashurst’s year, with partners voting to extend the lockstep ladder by 10 extra points. The firm also introduced a bonus pool for both equity and non-equity partners.