Legal Business Blogs

NRF unveils rise in bank loans to £55m but drop in net debt as South African partner appointed as global chair

Norton Rose’s last pre-Fulbright & Jaworski merger limited liability partnership accounts reveal that the top 10 LB100 firm’s bank loans rose from £47m to £55m during 2013, with the amount repayable within one year up from £3.3m to £16m, although its net debt has been cut by over two thirds.

The firm, which this week named South African chairman Sbu Gule as its new global chairman, was in 2013 due to repay £34m of bank loans in between two and five years, up on a figure of £4,830 in 2012.

However, net debt dropped by 71.3% from £26m to just over £7m in 2013, and the firm’s cash at the bank and in hand is up from £15m to £41m.

The firm’s accounts, which include Europe, the Middle East and Asia, cover the period to 30 April 2013, less than two months before its merger with Texas firm Fulbright & Jaworski went live on 3 June. Turnover was up from £355m to £368m, while the profit available for discretionary division between members rose from £81m to £97m.

The firm’s net current assets also rose from £184.2m to £201.9m and its highest paid equity member took home marginally more, up to £1.2m from £1m the previous year.

However, the number of fee-earners dropped by more than 7% from 1,061 to 988 and the number of business services staff decreased from 1,063 to 1,046. Correspondingly staff costs went down by 2.8% from £152m to £146m.

Separately, the firm has also named South Africa chairman Sbu Gule as its new global chairman. He replaces Australia’s Adrian Ahern as head of the firm’s 20-strong global supervisory board.

Gule’s new role will commence on May 1, 2014 while Ahern will continue to serve as chairman of Norton Rose Fulbright Australia and sit on the board. Gule was appointed as chairman of the South Africa business in April 2012 for a four-year term.