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Financial results 2013/14: Ashurst unveils post-merger turnover of £586m and PEP of £801k as Simmons reveals return to growth

Ashurst has unveiled its first post-merger financial results, boasting revenues of £586m and a profit per equity partner (PEP) of £801,000. The results come as Simmons & Simmons has  revealed a return to growth in 2013/14 with a 7% rise in revenue to £268.6m for the 12 months to 30 April 2014 and an increase in PEP of 5% to £550,000.

Ashurst’s results are the first since its merger with Blake Dawson last November, when the big six Australian firm rebranded as Ashurst Australia.

While there is no year-on-year comparative to judge the figures on, Ashurst’s pre-merger PEP figure was £680,000, down from £744,000 in 2012.

The revenue figure, which based on last year’s numbers would put Ashurst within the top 10 of UK firms, has also seen Ashurst jump up the Global 100 ranks from 72 in 2013 to 36 this year. The 1,748-lawyer firm now has a 420-strong partnership including 262 equity partners.

By comparison, pre-merger Ashurst had 1006 lawyers including a total of 242 partners, and reported revenues of £323m, up from £322m in 2012.

According to a statement from the firm, the revenue increase represents a 6% increase on a like-for-like basis while PEP has gone up by 22%.

Ashurst’s managing partner James Collis said the firm saw activity pick up generally during last summer with London’s finance practice singled out for being particularly busy, especially within capital markets and the securities and derivatives group. Outside of London, Germany, France and Hong Kong performed particularly well.

‘We have seen consistently high levels of activity in the US and the UK throughout the year. Activity levels in Continental Europe, the Middle East and Asia Pacific picked up from quarter three 2013,’ said Collis. ‘Having implemented our merger mid-year on the basis of a single profit pool and universal lockstep, we have ambitious plans for the firm.

‘These are a good set of results reflecting the commitment and hard work by partners and staff across the world. They provide a strong foundation on which to build greater profitability in the future.’

Meanwhile, Simmons, which last year launched a new office in Singapore with four partners, has come back from a slight fall in both revenue and PEP in 2012/13, when those figures dropped by 1% to £250.3m and £525,000 respectively.

This year’s PEP figure is the highest posted by the top 20 UK firm since an all-time high in 2007/08, when a 22% increase pushed PEP to £647,000.

Simmons, led by managing partner Jeremy Hoyland, has over the past year maintained an aggressive hiring strategy, bringing in 20 partners following the 29 lateral hires made the previous year. In May, eight associates were promoted to the partnership, just under half of which fell in London, where financial services trio Craig Bisson, Devarshi Saksena and Simon Whiteside were all made up.

This strategy meant that the firm, which opened offices in Munich and Bristol during 2012, grew from 420 lawyers in London last year to 448 this year. Simmons bolstered its growing Bristol presence with the hire of Osborne Clarke corporate partner Patrick Graves last week in what was the firm’s fourth partner hire in the South West city in two months. The office has more than doubled in size since launching last year with a five-partner team and Graves’ arrival followed that of Burges Salmon’s head of fund structuring Mahrie Webb, DLA Piper’s transactions partner Hinal Patel and DAC Beachcroft partner Jocelyn Ormond, all of whom have joined since the beginning of May.

Hoyland told Legal Business: ‘It was a great year for us in the UK and our corporate practice, which we’ve sought to grow, fared well. Our new Singapore office got off to a good start and will help to link up with international work from our other offices in Asia. Our Bristol office is another core focus for us, we’re hiring and winning work with partners in those offices. It isn’t just a place to outsource work that London partners have won.’