Legal Business Blogs

‘More difficult UK market’: Dentons’ UKMEA PEP drops 9% as turnover slows

Dentons has revealed the 2016/17 financial results for its UK, Middle East and Africa (UKMEA) LLP, showing a 9% fall in profit per equity partner (PEP) in the region to £481,000 and a modest 1% increase in revenue to £166.4m. A year ago, PEP was £530,000 and revenue £165m.

The performance, which covers the firm’s operations in Abu Dhabi, Amman, Cairo, Doha, Dubai, Jeddah, London, Milton Keynes, Muscat, Riyadh, Tashkent and Watford, means Dentons’ profitability in the region was back to levels before a 2014/15 surge, when PEP passed £500,000 with a 23% increase on the previous year to £502,000. In 2015/16, profits rose again by 5%.

Speaking to Legal Business, Jeremy Cohen, Dentons’ CEO for the UKMEA (pictured), admitted the firm would have ‘preferred to have a better profitability’ and pointed to a ‘fairly flat year’ in the UK market along with a number of investments as reasons for the fall in profit.

‘We had a more difficult UK market this year: work in the transactional practice was quite volatile after Brexit and went through quite a lot of ups and downs during the year. It is not that all trade stopped, it was a series of up and downs reflecting the general uncertainty.’

On the transactional side, the corporate team completed a number of cross-border transactions, with clients including KKR, Total and Indonesia’s national oil company Pertamina. The contentious practice also had a strong year, with Cohen claiming Dentons represented ‘more FTSE 100 companies than any other firm’.

Cohen also praised the firm’s 18 appointments to global panels with a significant UK component over the course of the year. In England, Dentons was one of the 12 firms appointed to tier one of the Central Government General Legal Services panel in March.

Dentons’ UKMEA operation, which counts 505 lawyers, took on 15 new partners, including 11 laterals, bringing the total to 161. ‘Generally when we hire partners from other firms there is a period when the team needs to build up, so it is not surprising that in the first year we do not have the revenue kick we expect,’ Cohen said.

Recent hires include real estate experts Rob Thompson, Lewis Myers, Rupert Dowdell and Jayne Schnider, who joined the London real estate practice from Irwin Mitchell. Former Olswang patent prosecution group co-chair Justin Hill also joined Dentons as his former firm prepared for its three-way merger with CMS Cameron McKenna and Nabarro.