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‘Not where I’d like them to be’: Ashurst disappoints again with 10% revenue tumble

Ashurst has posted its second year of falling revenues following its merger with Blake Dawson in 2013 with turnover dipping by £28m, bringing the firm’s revenues down 10% to £505m.

The drop follows last year’s 4% decrease, when revenues fell to £561m from £568m. Profits per equity partner also fell by 19%, down to £603,000 from £747,000 during the 2015/16 financial year.

The firm has seen a shakeup in its executive team this year, with the partnership voting in Sydney-based banking partner Paul Jenkins as its managing partner. He joins New Zealander Ben Tidswell who sits as chairman.

Jenkins (pictured) told Legal Business: ‘Our results are not where I’d like them to be. There are a number of factors behind that; there is the market context where our business is focused, there have been geopolitical issues, there’s been a big global slowdown in some of the resources sectors where we have a heavy focus – the oil and gas and mining sector where we have a significant investment.

He added: ‘There’s also the slowdown in China, the weakening of the pound against some of the key currencies that are a significant part of our business, for example the euro and the Australian dollar.’

But Jenkins points to financial services sectors, most notably funds, as an area where the firm increased revenue. The firm’s built environment sector has also performed well.

The firm highlighted growth in Hong Kong and Paris, but earlier this month closed its Swedish offering with its 30-lawyer Stockholm team moving over to Hamilton. Days later it was confirmed Ashurst was closing the doors to its Rome office after five years, with lawyers relocating to Milan. In January the firm put plans to open a base in South Korea on hold. While plans were already stagnated, they were understood to come to a halt last year after a team of partners led by its then Tokyo managing partner John McClenahan exited to spearhead King & Spalding’s launch in Tokyo.

Open taking up the role in June, Jenkins restructured the firm’s executive team, giving the new role of London head to co-head of corporate Simon Beddow. Jenkins also introduced a new head of clients and a head of innovation role. The changes mean the majority of leadership roles are now split between partners in Ashurst’s London and Australia-based offices.

But the firm was dealt a blow with a number of partner exits this year. Equity capital markets partner Jonathan Parry and disputes specialist Mark Clarke both left the firm for White & Case, while corporate partner and board member Anthony Clare left for Stephenson Harwood. Financial institutions partner James Perry also departed in April for Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.

However, Jenkins said the firm continues to grow and noted 20 laterals hired over that last year. In London the firm has brought in TMT duo Nick Elverston and Amanda Hale from Herbert Smith Freehills, real estate partners Darren Rogers, Patrick Williams and Robert Andrews from King & Wood Mallesons and DLA Piper’s international arbitration head Matthew Saunders. The firm has also appointed RBS head of EMEA loan markets Dave Rome to a newly-created position of strategic director of corporate lending.

Jenkins added: ‘It has been another year of significant change within the business as we continue to implement our strategy as well. We have been heavily investing over the last two years to best position the business for the next five to ten years. There has been particularly heavy investment in our technology and our Ashurst Advance platform in Glasgow.’