Legal Business

Pinsents holds back ‘significant’ investment from partner profits amid 7% revenue growth

Pinsents holds back ‘significant’ investment from partner profits amid 7% revenue growth

Pinsent Masons has ring-fenced ‘significant funds’ from partner profits in a bid to prioritise investing in the business, in turn cutting profit per equity partner (PEP) by 5%.

Revenue at the firm for the 2018/19 financial year rose 7% to £482m, slightly ahead of last year’s 6% increase and good for growth of more than 40% over the last five years. Gross profit rose 2.5%, but PEP fell to £620,000 from £653,000 as the firm put aside funds for investment in areas including IT and cybersecurity.

Pinsents managing partner John Cleland told Legal Business the firm had for the past four or five years diverted profit into investing in the business when necessary, but this year it was being ‘more overt’ about it. He expected the move would not be a one-off, although would not specify how much had been held back: based on last year’s equity partner numbers, however, the fund is likely to be in excess of £6m.

‘We’re deliberately signalling that while a significant proportion is going back to the principle stakeholders, the rest of it is being reinvested directly in the business,’ he commented. ‘Once we make investment, then we will redistribute back out to partners, so it’s a prioritising of investment, as opposed to moving away from a full distribution model.’

Cleland pointed to what he called an ‘aggressive’ eight office openings over the past four years as one area of investment, most recently opening its third German outpost in Frankfurt.

Furthermore, in March it appointed Kirsty Dougan to develop the firm’s Vario business – its flexible resourcing offering – in Asia-Pacific, having now launched in Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong. Cleland said that business had seen significant double-digit growth this year and its headcount has reached 600 globally. The firm also has about 50 legal technologists, analysts and engineers in an R&D function it is developing.

The firm’s overall partnership grew by 4% to 446 partners last year. It was also one of the leading firms on the Mindful Business Charter, an initiative it spearheaded alongside Addleshaw Goddard at Barclays to try to mitigate unnecessary stress for in-house and external lawyers.

‘We’ve continued to focus on organic growth in the business, but have also been investing in the services we think broaden our offering. We have a number of things that are important to us as a business and we need to invest in those,’ Cleland commented. ‘We continue to be interested in Europe. Germany’s been a very good market for us.’

hamish.mcnicol@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Prohibitively expensive: Pinsent lands £25m litigation funding deal

Prohibitively expensive: Pinsent lands £25m litigation funding deal

Pinsent Masons has secured a £25m preferred-supplier deal with litigation funder August Ventures to offer ‘non-recourse’ funding at better terms than would normally be available.

Clients will have access to a dedicated facility at preferred rates and a fast-tracked due diligence process, while Augusta will also refer some clients to Pinsents.

Claimants will pay nothing if a claim is unsuccessful, and Augusta will fund the cost of pursuing the claim, including lawyer and expert fees, and recover payment from the paying party if the outcome is successful. The fee is reflective of the time taken to make a recovery, meaning the sooner the case settles, the smaller the fee.

Pinsents head of international arbitration Mark Roe, who leads third party funding for the firm, told Legal Business many clients viewed litigation and arbitration as prohibitively expensive. Even those that could afford it often preferred to invest in other areas of their business, he said.

He claims the deal with Augusta will provide clients with access to better prices for litigation funding than were generally available in the market.

‘Our deal with Augusta allows those who either haven’t got funds available or wish to use their funds on other things, to access justice substantially less expensively than would otherwise be the case,’ he commented. ‘What we’ve done is that by agreeing with Augusta that we will prefer them as our supplier they’ve agreed to give our clients much better terms than are generally available.’

Roe added that the disputes market had been busier this year: ‘What’s driving those varies from industry to industry. In the infrastructure space, margins are tighter, and there has been some tightening of the amount of cash available to contractors to pay claims and honour contractual obligations.’

Pinsents’ deal follows Clyde & Co announcing in March it had entered into an arrangement with Litigation Capital Management (LCM), which listed on the London Stock Exchange’s Alternative Investment Market last December, to make funding available for its clients on a single case or portfolio basis.

That deal landed its first portfolio financing arrangement in June this year, with LCM giving access to funding for 38 worldwide disputes and contractual claims over an initial five-year period for one of the firm’s aviation clients.

muna.abdi@legalbusiness.co.uk

Legal Business

Pinsents, Bird & Bird, BCLP and Network Rail the big winners at the 2019 Legal Business Awards

Pinsents, Bird & Bird, BCLP and Network Rail the big winners at the 2019 Legal Business Awards

Pinsent Masons, Bird & Bird, Network Rail and Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP) were among the major winners at the 2019 Legal Business Awards in front of more than 1,000 guests last night (28 March).

Hosted by comedian, writer and actress Meera Syal, the evening saw Pinsent Masons crowned Law Firm of the Year for a second time, with judges impressed by the firm’s performance in areas such as client satisfaction, CSR and innovation in addition to financial results.

Meanwhile, alongside BCLP and Heathrow Airport, Pinsents jointly won Energy and Infrastructure Team of the Year as the trio worked together to address the challenge of Heathrow’s proposed expansion. BCLP also picked up another accolade, winning Private Client Team of the Year.

Bird & Bird also won two awards on the night, named TMT Team of the Year in the first award of the evening before being named Legal Technology Team of the Year later on.

Network Rail was the standout in-house performer, a joint winner in the Real Estate Team of the Year category alongside its external advisers Clifford Chance and Eversheds Sutherland for its work on Project Condor, while also being named In-House Team of the Year. Collaboration was evident among a growing number of nominees, with Simmons & Simmons and Travers Smith jointly awarded Commercial Litigation Team of the Year.

Elsewhere, Kirkland & Ellis continues its blistering recent performance, winning the prestigious Private Equity Team of the Year award for a successive year, as well as being Highly Commended in the Law Firm of the Year category. It was a strong year again for US firms in London, with Davis Polk & Wardwell winning Finance Team of the Year, Skadden, Arps, Slate Meagher & Flom securing Competition Team of the Year, King & Spalding International Arbitration Team of the Year and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher named Corporate Team of the Year.

Individuals recognised on the night included Richard Miskella of Lewis Silkin, who won the Lawyer of the Year award for his work on  #MeToo-related investigations for The Old Vic and subsequent pro bono work in this area. Nick Thomas of Kennedys was named our Management Partner of the Year for his long and successful run as senior partner, while Frances Coats of The Ardonagh Group was named Rising Star In-House Counsel of the Year.

The debut Chambers of the Year award went to 3 Verulam Buildings, after reversing its fortunes to produce a robust performance in recent years.

Thanks go to our external judging panel of prominent general counsel who selected the winners: Nigel Paterson, GC and company secretary, Dixons Carphone; Anna Cosgrave, head of legal, Graze; Ruwan De Soyza, GC, Worldpay; Rushad Abadan, GC, Standard Life Aberdeen; Charlotte Heiss, group chief legal officer and company secretary, RSA; Neil Murrin, GC and director – regulatory affairs, Trainline; Richard Price, GC and company secretary, Anglo-American; Angus McBride, GC, News UK; Geoffrey Timms, GC and company secretary, Legal & General; Kirsty Cooper, GC and company secretary, Aviva; Dan Guildford, GC, The Financial Times; Nayeem Syed, assistant GC, Refinitiv; Liz Tanner, director of legal services, SSE; Elisabeth Messud, group legal director, Kingfisher; Joanne Jolly, GC and company secretary – Insurance and Wealth, Lloyds Banking Group; and Jeremy Barton, GC, KPMG UK.

Our May edition will include a full report of the night. For more details on the winners and the awards in general click, here.

thomas.alan@legalbusiness.co.uk

 

Legal Business Awards 2019 – The Winners

Bird & Bird – TMT Team of the Year

Davis Polk & Wardwell – Finance Team of the Year

King & Spalding – International Arbitration Team of the Year

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer – Restructuring Team of the Year

Skadden, Arps, Slate Meagher & Flom – Competition Team of the Year

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner/Heathrow Airport/Pinsent Masons – Energy and Infrastructure Team of the Year

Simmons & Simmons/Travers Smith – Commercial Litigation Team of the Year

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner – Private Client Team of the Year

Hebert Smith Freehills – Insurance Team of the Year

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher – Corporate Team of the Year

Kirkland & Ellis – Private Equity Team of the Year

Clifford Chance/Eversheds Sutherland/Network Rail – Real Estate Team of the Year

Northridge Law – Boutique Law Firm of the Year

Richard Miskella – Lawyer of the Year

Hogan Lovells – CSR Programme of the Year

A&L Goodbody – International Firm of the Year

Frances Coats, The Ardonagh Group – Rising Star In-House Counsel of the Year

Network Rail – In-House Team of the Year

Nick Thomas – Management Partner of the Year

White & Case – US Law Firm of the Year

Lucy Vernall, Funding Circle – GC of the Year

3 Verulam Buildings – Chambers of the Year

Bird & Bird – Technology Team of the Year

Ogier – Regional/Offshore Firm of the Year

 

Legal Business

Third German office and trio of Dublin hires the latest moves in Pinsents’ international odyssey

Third German office and trio of Dublin hires the latest moves in Pinsents’ international odyssey

Pinsent Masons has kicked off 2019 in expansionist mode, opening a new office in Frankfurt, right after finishing 2018 with three partner hires for its Irish base.

Three years after opening in Düsseldorf, Pinsents announced at the beginning of January it had hired six partners from a range of independent and international firms to spearhead the new German branch.

Legal Business

‘A global solution’: Pinsents hires six partners for Frankfurt launch as DLA expands in Dublin

‘A global solution’: Pinsents hires six partners for Frankfurt launch as DLA expands in Dublin

Pinsent Masons has hired six partners from a range of firms for a new Frankfurt office, the firm’s third opening in Germany since 2012.

Frankfurt follows moves into Munich and Düsseldorf for Pinsents in 2012 and 2016 respectively. The new office will focus on the technology, energy and real estate sectors initially with an eye to developing in financial services.

A founding team of six partners has been hired from multiple firms for the launch. Volker Balda joins from KPMG Law, where he was M&A head for Germany and co-head of the global corporate law practice, M&A partners Markus Friedel and Sven Shculte-Hillen join from Dechert, M&A partner Ronald Meissner joins from Oppenhoff & Partners, real estate partner Tobias Nuss joins from Beiten Burkhardt, and intellectual property partner Nils Rauer was hired from Hogan Lovells.

Pinsents’ Germany head Rainer Kreifels commented: ‘Establishing a presence in Frankfurt has been part of our vision for Germany from the outset. The new office in addition to our Munich and Düsseldorf locations will increase the strength and depth of our offering for clients locally and internationally.’

The firm has grown to 38 partners and more than 100 lawyers in Germany over the last six years, including five lateral hires in the past 12 months. Key mandates have included advising German tech company About You on a $300m funding deal and completing three Frankfurt Stock Exchange initial public offerings.

Last year, Fieldfisher and Covington & Burling also opened offices in Frankfurt.

Elsewhere, DLA Piper has hired four partners from different firms to join its Dublin office, which recently launched with the hire of David Carthy from William Fry.

Conor Houlihan joins from Dillon Eustace to lead DLA’s finance and projects practice in Ireland, Éanna Mellett joins as a corporate partner from Matheson, while former A&L Goodbody partners Mark Rasdale and Ciara McLoughlin join the intellectual property and technology and employment practices respectively.

Carthy, DLA’s Ireland managing partner, told Legal Business the firm intended to build a substantial practice in Ireland. He joined DLA in July to help refine the strategy and said the Irish market was ‘ripe for change’.

‘Clients are looking for a global solution and want more choice. DLA works differently from a lot of the Irish players. Clients are increasingly asking, “Can you help me in different jurisdictions?”’

Carthy expected to make further hires and saw the practice growing to at least 100 lawyers over the next couple of years. Financial services, technology and life sciences are a particular focus for the office, with Dublin seen as a key global hub in those sectors.

Carthy added: ‘The Irish economy is doing very well at the moment. Obviously Brexit has added major uncertainty, but there’s still plenty of activity.’

DLA was the fifth firm to open in Dublin after the Brexit vote, following in the footsteps of Lewis Silkin, Simmons & Simmons, Covington & Burling and Pinsents.

hamish.mcnicol@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Deal watch: Bakers and Slaughters drink in £3.1bn Horlicks acquisition as AJ Bell IPO yields dividends for Pinsents and Addleshaws

Deal watch: Bakers and Slaughters drink in £3.1bn Horlicks acquisition as AJ Bell IPO yields dividends for Pinsents and Addleshaws

As the market hunkers down for the festive season, GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK) £3.1bn sale to Unilever of Horlicks has warmed the cockles of City teams from Baker McKenzie and Slaughter and May, while Pinsent Masons and Addleshaw Goddard have won key mandates on what is likely the year’s last big London listing.

The GSK deal sees it sell its malted drink brand Horlicks and other consumer healthcare nutrition brands to Unilever and includes the merger of listed GSK Consumer Healthcare India with Hindustan Unilever. GSK will also sell its 82% stake in GlaxoSmithKline Bangladesh in the deal, which is slated to complete by the end of next year.

Bakers stepped up for long-standing client Unilever on the deal, with a London team led by corporate partner David Scott alongside partners Steve Holmes, Sue McLean and Michelle Blunt, who advised on the IP and tech aspects of the deal, as well as tax partner Alistair Craig.

Indian firm Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas advised Unilever on Indian law, while Slaughter and May, with a team including partners David Johnson, Simon Nicholls and Christian Boney, acted for GSK.

Last year, Bakers advised Unilever on its acquisition of the personal care and homecare brands of Quala, the Latin American consumer goods company, as well as it joint venture with Europe & Asia Commercial Company in Myanmar.

Scott told Legal Business: ‘It was a pleasure to partner again with our great client, Unilever, and our friends at Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, on this terrific acquisition, including an iconic brand such as Horlicks.’

Meanwhile, Slaughters earlier this year advised repeat client GSK on its $13bn acquisition of Novartis’ 36.5% stake in their consumer healthcare joint venture.

In other news, Pinsents secured a notable win to advise Manchester-headquartered AJ Bell, one of the largest UK investment platform providers, on a proposed listing on the London Stock Exchange which could raise up to £675m.

The price range for the offer has been set at £1.54 to £1.66 per ordinary share, implying a market capitalisation on admission of between £626m and £675m.

Pinsents corporate partner Julian Stanier led the team advising the company, which is also offering customers the opportunity to apply for shares via the AJ Bell website.

Stanier told Legal Business the IPO is slated to be the last big London listing of 2018 after what has been a choppy year for the capital markets.

‘It’s the same with all companies looking to list. If there is a growth story and strong management team, investors will back it, and we are confident that will be the case with AJ Bell.’

Stanier points to the customer offer alongside the institutional offer as being a point of interest.

He added: ‘The quasi-retail element is not the most common, although it has appeared before, such as in Ocado’s 2010 IPO. What’s interesting is that the whole customer offer can be done completely through AJ Bell’s website.’

Shares are due to be admitted on 12 December.

Addleshaws, meanwhile is advising Numis as sponsor, financial adviser, sole bookrunner and broker to AJ Bell on the float, led by partners Giles Distin in London and Richard Lee in Manchester.

The firm pointed to other notable listings it has worked on in the last two years, including the IPOs of Mind Gym, Sumo Digital, The City Pub Company and Ramsdens.

Distin commented: ‘Whilst UK IPO activity has generally been more muted this year, partly due to volatile market conditions and fears around Brexit, several sizeable and successful businesses have managed to complete a flotation. Like Numis, which has remained very active in the IPO market this year, we’re pleased to have been busy throughout 2018 advising on IPOs and other equity capital markets work.’

nathalie.tidman@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

International round-up: Fieldfisher opens third China office as Pinsents settles Madrid dispute

International round-up: Fieldfisher opens third China office as Pinsents settles Madrid dispute

Ever-expansive Fieldfisher has bolstered its presence in Asia having opened a third office in China, while Pinsent Masons has settled a dispute with its former Spanish best friend firm over its Madrid outpost.

Fieldfisher’s new office in in Guangzhou, which will focus on corporate, M&A, dispute resolution and IP work, is staffed by a seven-lawyer team from local firm Geenen Law Office.

Three are partners: Zhongran Lian, Kuan Liu and Connie Wong. Lian is a commercial litigation and arbitration specialist, with more than 30 years’ experience in representing both state-owned and private companies. Similarly, Liu is an arbitration and litigation partner with over 20 years’ experience in civil and commercial cases.

Wong has a broad corporate history and has advised a range of clients on both inbound and outbound cross-border investments.

The Guangzhou hub marks Fieldfisher’s third Chinese office, following launches in Beijing in November 2016 and Shanghai in February 2017.

Fieldfisher’s Chinese operation now consists of 14 partners and 21 lawyers as well as paralegals and support staff.

Managing partner of Fieldfisher China, Zhaofeng Zhou, told Legal Business: ‘We are following our clients, we have big clients in the Guangzhou region. Geographically it also has lots of potential due to financial investment from the Chinese government.’

Zhou noted that Guangzhou is one of China’s four first-tier cities with the others being Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen. It is the capital of Guangdong province, which has a GDP similar to Spain. The firm considers it home to companies from many of its key sectors, including automotive and biotechnology.

Meanwhile, a wrangle between Pinsents and former Spanish best friend firm Ramón & Cajal has been concluded.

Ramón had initially sued Pinsents after it hired four of its lawyers following failed merger talks in 2016. The UK-based firm had appointed Diego Lozano, Antonio Sánchez Montero, Inmaculada Castelló and Idoya Arteagabeitia, despite Ramón alleging that the hires violated a previously agreed no-hiring provision.

The Spanish firm turned to Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan co-head Richard East to fight its claim, while Pinsents enlisted Ashurt partner James Levy and Blackstone Chambers barrister Thomas Croxford.

A spokesperson for Pinsents said: ‘The parties have settled the litigation and their previous good relations are now restored.  The parties do not intend to comment further.’

tom.baker@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

‘Continued growth an excellent result’: year of investment brings slowdown for Pinsents

‘Continued growth an excellent result’: year of investment brings slowdown for Pinsents

Pinsent Masons has recorded slower revenue growth for the 2017/18 financial year, with turnover increasing by 6% to £449.8m compared to the 11% growth the firm recorded last year.

Profit per equity partner (PEP) increased by 4% to £653,000, a significant slowdown from the 14% growth registered last year, however the increase comes despite the addition of six equity partners at the firm since July 2017.

The results point to a return to a more pedestrian pace for Pinsents, which last year saw revenues break the £400m barrier after a subdued 2015/16 performance. However, the five-year picture remains strong:  turnover has increased by 40% over that period, while profitability has grown by 60%, with the firm being one of the most consistent high-performers in the Legal Business 100 in recent years.

Around 90% of revenue generated came from clients operating in the firm’s core sectors, with advanced manufacturing and technology, financial services, infrastructure and energy and real estate the primary drivers of growth. Last year the firm estimated 85% of turnover came from the same sectors.

Speaking to Legal Business, managing partner John Cleland said: ‘This year we entered the year knowing it would be unpredictable, but in the current economy we continued with our level of investment with office launches and 30 laterals. Continued growth is an excellent result.’

Cleland believes the firm will now look towards consolidating after an active 12 months, with the firm expanding in Dublin, Madrid and Australia as well as making up 23 partners in March as part of a bolstered promotion round.

‘We’re always looking at opportunities but probably we will look at consolidating and making a return on our existing investments.’

Cleland highlighted Germany as a particularly lucrative area for the firm, while recent mandates have included acting on Mainstream Renewable Power’s sale to EDF of the £2bn Neart na Gaoithe offshore wind farm in Scotland, as well as a role advising Yorkshire-based polymer technology company Fenner on a cash offer by Michelin.

In March, the firm sold one of its earliest New Law investments, Cerico, to Dow Jones for an undisclosed sum.

thomas.alan@legalease.co.uk

For more on Pinsents, read ‘Our values are imperatives’: Pinsents chief on diversity, success and being bolder (£)

Legal Business

Revolving Doors: Ashurst and Greenberg Traurig strengthen City benches as Pinsents sees moves both ways

Revolving Doors: Ashurst and Greenberg Traurig strengthen City benches as Pinsents sees moves both ways

A bumper week for City and international lateral hires followed the Easter break last week with Ashurst and Greenberg Traurig among those to make strategic additions in London, strengthening their real estate and white-collar practices respectively.

Ashurst announced the hire of Alison Hardy from Squire Patton Boggs where she was national head of its property litigation team. James Levy, head of Ashurst’s London disputes practice, said: ‘Alison is a highly regarded and experienced real estate litigator. We have every confidence that she will deliver great results for clients and play a key role in further developing our capability in high value disputes.’

Similarly, US firm Greenberg Traurig made a significant lateral move in the City as it secured the services of white-collar defence and investigations specialist Barry Vitou from Pinsent Masons, who will now lead its London practice.

Vitou holds expertise working on corruption, money laundering and the UK Bribery Act. Greenberg vice chair Paul Maher said: ‘We are always exploring ways to enhance what we can offer clients. This is one of the things we will achieve with the expected addition of Barry Vitou.’

Pinsents, for its part, strengthened its restructuring team with the addition of Samantha Palmer as partner. Palmer joins from Ashfords where she was a board member and head of professional and financial risks. She also has previous experience with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), where she headed up the financial stability programme.

Pinsents said: ‘Samantha’s arrival enhances our ability to provide a market-leading offering in terms of the restructuring of professional practices, advising lenders to professional practices, business-structure work for investors into the legal sector and pure regulatory advice for law firms themselves.’

Elsewhere in London, experienced private client specialist Jonathan Kropman will be leaving post-merger Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP) to join Trowers & Hamlins to lead its private wealth team. Kropman had led legacy Berwin Leighton Paisner’s private client group for 13 years.

BCLP however was at the forefront of European activity this last week, deepening its German footprint with the hire of Bernd Geier to lead the firm’s financial regulation practise in Frankfurt.

Geier leaves Dentons, where he occupied a similar role leading its financial regulation and funds practice. Roland Fabian, managing partner for BCLP Germany, said in a statement: ‘Through this expansion of our regulatory expertise, we will be able to offer clients comprehensive advice on their increasingly complex regulatory matters, particularly in the context of the impending Brexit.’

Despite the loss, Dentons also made moves in Europe as partner Giangiacomo Olivi joins the firm’s Milan office. Arriving from DLA Piper, Olivi will now spearhead Dentons’ data privacy team.

Further afield, Clyde & Co appointed Cameron Thomson as a partner in its Sydney office, with the real estate expert leaving Norton Rose Fulbright. In a statement Clydes said: ‘Cameron’s capabilities, along with the firm’s extensive footprint in the region, made establishing a dedicated non-contentious real estate practice in Australia the next logical step’

Stephenson Harwood was also among those that saw activity in Asia-Pacific, with the arrival of partner Allen Shyu from Troutman Sanders to its Beijing office, after the US firm announced the closure of its office earlier this year. Shyu, who joined Troutman from Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe’s Hong Kong office, will lead on involved in capital markets deals, M&A and private equity matters.

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher is also committed to international hires in Hong Kong by securing two partners from US counterpart Weil, Gotshal & Manges. John Fadely and Albert Cho are poised to join Gibson’s investment funds group after their respective stints at Weil, which lasted eight and four years respectively. Gibson chairman and managing partner Ken Doran said: ‘We are focused on building a premier corporate practise in Asia that complements our private equity and M&A practices in the US, Europe and the Middle East.’

thomas.alan@legalbusiness.co.uk

Legal Business

‘Our values are imperatives’: Pinsents chief on diversity, success and being bolder

‘Our values are imperatives’: Pinsents chief on diversity, success and being bolder

Legal Business (LB): How do you create a clearer picture of what Pinsents is doing on diversity?

Richard Foley (RF): You’ve got to be consistent in highlighting it as a priority. We’re clear about the programmes we have and we’re vocal about successes. We’ve just been ranked second of all UK corporates in this year’s Stonewall index for the second year running.