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Global ambitions: Dentons opens in Jo’burg as accounts show profit jump

Dentons has continued its rapid expansion with the addition of a new South African office in Johannesburg, while accounts filed at Companies House by Dentons UKMEA LLP have revealed the firm saw a substantial rise in profits as it lowered operating costs and improved turnover.

The new office builds on Dentons’ already established presence in Cape Town, which the firm started in April 2014 after combining with local firm KapdiTwala, led by managing partner Noor Kapdi. Dentons global chief executive, Elliott Portnoy, said: ‘South Africa is an exciting and sophisticated commercial market, as well as an important gateway for the Southern Africa region.’

Meanwhile, Dentons UKMEA, which covers a spread of offices including London, Milton Keynes, Abu Dhabi, Singapore and Tashkent, filed accounts for financial year 2013/14 which show profits before partner remuneration and profit shares rising by 33.6% from £27.7m in the 2012/23 financial year to £37.0m in 2013/14  – the first full year since SNR Dentons $1bn tripartite tie-up with Salans and Fraser Milner Casgrain. The extra profits were generated by an increase in turnover of 3.5% as revenues rose from £142.8m to £147.6m combined with lower costs.

The main savings in operating costs came from other operating charges which dropped 14.4% from £38.4m to £32.9m as staff costs stayed flat at £72.8m. This was despite a large drop in staff numbers as total headcount fell 8.9% from a monthly average of 928 in 2012/13 to 846 in 2013/14. Support staff made up the majority of that fall dropping from 493 to 434 while there were 23 fewer fee earners on average at the firm. However, partner numbers rose to 122 from 115 the previous year with the highest remunerated taking home £703,000, up from £564,000 the year before.

The changing headcount comes as the firm’s offices in Moscow and Almaty were transferred to Salans FMC SNR Dentons Europe LLP while in July 2013 the firm also closed its Kuwait office.

Last month, Dentons announced it would continue its expansion by combining with Chinese firm Dacheng, a move that will establish a 6,600-lawyer giant operating under a Swiss verein structure.