Legal Business

Staying local: White & Case wins foreign licence renewal in Singapore

Staying local: White & Case wins foreign licence renewal in Singapore

White & Case has been granted renewal for its Qualifying Foreign Law Practice (QFLP) licence. The Singapore government has extended the firm’s QFLP licence for four years to April 2019, following the firm’s request for renewal.

White & Case was one of six law firms to originally receive the first QFLP licences issued by the Singapore government in 2009. The licence allows foreign firms to practise in permitted areas of Singapore law.

Eric Berg, White & Case’s head of Asia, said: ‘Singapore is a key international business hub and our office in Singapore plays a major role in our ability to provide critical solutions to clients’ complex cross-border and local business challenges. We are excited about the opportunities this extension provides.’

Singapore continues to push Singapore law as the governing law for regional transactions, stating that only foreign firms with a QFLP licence can advise on Singapore law independently. Five firms still have QFLP licences: Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Latham & Watkins and Norton Rose Fulbright, in addition to White & Case.

Renewal is granted based on a number of rigorous targets, including the value of work generated and lawyer headcount in the Singapore office. Without a QFLP licence, international firms need to partner with domestic practices in the city state.

Meanwhile, many firms have pushed to enhance their presence in the region, including Withers’ formal law alliance with Singapore law firm KhattarWong, while Herbert Smith Freehills entered into a best-friend agreement with Prolegis after giving up its QFLP licence. In addition, King & Wood Mallesons confirmed earlier this year plans to open an office, while DLA Piper secured a coup with the hire of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher’s Singapore partner John Viverito to lead its offering in the city state.

jaishree.kalia@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

International moves: Dentons takes on White & Case Budapest office with over 30-strong team

International moves: Dentons takes on White & Case Budapest office with over 30-strong team

Dentons has enhanced its CEE presence in Budapest with the hire of White & Case partners István Réczicza, Rob Irving and Edward Keller who join alongside 30 local partners, associates and other legal professionals.

The team will officially make the move at the beginning of May to ‘strengthen’ the firm’s corporate M&A, private equity, TMT and disputes offering in Hungary. Currently Dentons’ Budapest office houses 13 lawyers.

A spokesperson for White & Case confirmed the firm would no longer have an office in Hungary and said: ‘The White & Case office in Budapest will move to Dentons with effect from 3 May 2015. From this date, we will no longer maintain an office there. The firm is committed to supporting our clients’ cross-border needs in Central & Eastern Europe and we will continue to be recognised as a market leader for international work in the region. We wish István, Rob and Edward and the Budapest team well in their future endeavours.’

On the hires, Dentons Europe chief executive Tomasz Dabrowski, said: ‘We are delighted to welcome this prominent team to Dentons. Their market leading expertise will significantly broaden our offering to clients not only in Hungary but in the CEE region and across Europe. This is another step in our Firm’s strategy to be one of the very top practices globally offering top-notch, band 1 advice to its clients and at the same time to be deeply rooted in the communities in which we work.’

It follows Dentons’ announcement last week that it was to officially combine with Atlanta-based firm McKenna Long & Aldridge in a bid to further boost its US presence following approval from both partnerships.

sarah.downey@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Life During Law – John Reynolds

Life During Law – John Reynolds

If you wanted to do litigation, there was no better place than Herbert Smith. I have no idea why but it was always going to be litigation. It was all I saw on TV and in books, there were no books written about M&A lawyers.

Suddenly the City just couldn’t get enough lawyers – if you had a pulse you could get a job in those days.

Legal Business

US financials round up: White & Case revenues increase, K&L figures are flat, while Cadwalader partner profits drop

US financials round up: White & Case revenues increase, K&L figures are flat, while Cadwalader partner profits drop

US financial results for 2014 continue to stream in with White & Case becoming the latest firm to reveal an increase in revenue while both K&L Gates and Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft bucked the positive trend having turned in lacklustre performances.

White & Case’s revenues increase was not as dramatic as some results this season but the firm recorded a 4% bump to $1.5bn in 2014 from $1.4bn in 2013. Revenue per lawyer at the firm also grew 5% from $760,000 to $800,000 while average profits per equity partner rose more confidently at 7% to $2m from $1.9m in 2013, giving a 36% increase over three years.

London executive partner Oliver Brettle said the firm is proud of its performance, especially over the last three years. ‘While we do not publically announce individual office or regional results, I will say that the London office once again made an important contribution, which had a very positive impact on the overall results,’ Brettle said.

K&L Gates‘ figures show that performance was generally flat for 2014 with revenues declining modestly by 1.2%, and revenues per lawyer and net income per partner also being essentially flat year over year. Turnover fell from $1,158.9m in 2013 to $1,145.4m in 2014 while revenue per lawyer remained at $587,000. The firm attributed the flat figures to currency fluctuations with the US dollar strengthening in the second half of 2014.

The firm’s net income available for all equity partners as a percentage of revenues decreased from 27.6% in 2013 to 25.6% in 2014. The firm said this was due to the slight decline in revenues in 2014 combined with higher expenses for the year.

However, figures for its London office were more positive, with revenues growing 11% to £44.96m in 2014 from £40.5m in 2013 – an increase of some 60% since 2009. Tony Griffiths, administrative partner at K&L Gates’ London office said: ‘Against the backdrop of a challenging geopolitical environment, it is hugely encouraging to report a fifth consecutive year of revenue growth for the London office. Integral to our strategy has been to provide multi-disciplinary advice and solutions for our clients, avoiding rigid departmental structures.’

Griffiths added: ‘Our focus through the previous five years and going forward has been on boardroom risk solutions, advice to alternative capital providers, and international energy, infrastructure and resources. Each of these areas involves all of our London lawyers, and has been particularly important in driving the growth in our revenues.’

Meanwhile, Cadwalader figures took a more severe hit with partner profits dropping 15.3% to $2.21m from $2.61m in 2013 as gross revenue marginally fell to $481.5m compared to 2013’s level of $481.7m. On the other hand, revenue per lawyer decreased by 3.2% to $1.07m from $1.1m.

The fall in Cadwalder’s numbers follows the appointment of managing partner Patrick Quinn at the end of January after head Jim Woolery – who was poised to become chair of the firm that same month after nearly two years as chairman – announced he is leaving the firm to help start a new investment venture.

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, on the other hand, saw positive growth with net income climbing 12.8% to $356m from $315.5m in 2013, and gross revenues increase 4.8% to $868m from $828.5m. Revenues per lawyer increased more moderately by 2.9% to $1.055m from $1.025m, as did the firm’s partner profits, which rose 2.7% to $1.885m from $1.835m. These results come after the firm pulled off one of the largest ever London acquisitions after taking nearly 30 partners from the now defunct Bingham McCutchen.

For more analysis of the surging US market see: The blessed – unheralded, Wall Street’s elite comes roaring back

jaishree.kalia@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Trainee retention: White & Case keeps on 100% of Spring 2015 trainees as OC retains 89%

Trainee retention: White & Case keeps on 100% of Spring 2015 trainees as OC retains 89%

White & Case and Osborne Clarke (OC) are the latest firms to reveal trainee retention rates this month, keeping on 100% and 89% respectively.

White & Case kept all of its 13 trainee solicitors who applied to qualify in February 2015 as it targets a growing number of cross-border transactions. The result follows a 100% retention rate for the same class last year, and an 84% retention rate in September 2014 after 12 trainees from a total intake of 14 accepted positions at the firm.

The firm’s partner and training principal Justin Benson, who heads the trainee solicitor programme in the London office, said: ‘We continue to see growing demand for English law expertise in cross-border transactions and aim to provide our trainees with the skills and experience they need to become successful lawyers in a leading and dynamic international law firm.’

The newly qualified lawyers join will join the firm’s corporate M&A, disputes, banking and energy, infrastructure, and project and asset finance practice groups.

OC, on the other hand, managed to keep on 89% of its Spring qualifiers, with eight out of its nine trainees set to qualify in March this year. Three of the newly qualified lawyers will join the firm’s Bristol office, with another three in London and two in Thames Valley, across the firm’s commercial, projects, funds, corporate and property litigation groups.

Trowers & Hamlins retained slightly less with 82% of its trainees staying on at that firm. In total, nine of its eleven trainees will qualifying in March 2015 and take up positions across the real estate, banking and finance, disputes and international energy and natural resources departments. Seven of the solicitors will be based in the firm’s London office, with one each in Manchester and Birmingham.

jaishree.kalia@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

A €3.5bn arbitration: Shearman, Bakers and White & Case land roles on Finnish nuclear dispute

A €3.5bn arbitration: Shearman, Bakers and White & Case land roles on Finnish nuclear dispute

Finnish power producer TVO and construction consortium Areva-Siemens have gone to London’s International Dispute Resolution Centre (IDRC) in a bid to settle the ongoing €3.5bn Finnish nuclear arbitration over construction delays to the 1.6gw Olkiluoto 3 nuclear plant.

The ongoing arbitration has attracted some of US’ leading firms with Shearman & Sterling‘s international arbitration practice head Emmanuel Gaillard leading the case representing Areva alongside arbitration partners Mark McNeill in London and Alexander Bevan in Abu Dhabi. The firm instructed former Shearman arbitration partner and co-founding partner of Three Crowns Todd Wetmore. Additionally, Baker & McKenzie dispute partner Hein-Juergen Schramke in Frankfurt is advising Siemens.

White & Case is acting for TVO with partners Phillip Capper and Daniel Garton out of London, and Andrew McDougall in Paris. The firm instructed 4 New Square barrister Paul Cowan, who was formerly a partner at White & Case from 2003 to 2014.

Areva-Siemens initiated arbitration proceedings against TVO in December 2008 over alleged unpaid payments and losses caused by construction delays. While construction of the plant began in 2004, it is not expected to be fully commissioned until 2018 – nine years behind schedule.

In October 2014, the Areva-Siemens consortium increased its arbitration claim against TVO to €3.5bn for additional work, disruption, prolongation of the project and cost overruns, while TVO’s counterclaim is for €2.3bn.

jaishree.kalia@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Partner promotions: White & Case doubles its promotion round with London office gaining the most

Partner promotions: White & Case doubles its promotion round with London office gaining the most

White & Case has promoted 37 lawyers to its partnership ranks, over double last year’s level of 18, with five made up in London and one further new partner transferring to the city.

Some 65% or 24 of the total number of promotions were awarded in Europe, Middle East and Africa, with the most currently being located in the firm’s Germany practices – three in Frankfurt, two in Berlin and one in Düsseldorf – though Philip Trillmich is set to transfer to London shortly, tipping the balance to the City where he will join five further newly made up partners: Alison Weal, asset finance; Richard Pogrel, capital markets; Prabhu Narasimhan, tax; Daniel Garton, international arbitration; and Marcus Booth, M&A.    

In comparison, the US-headquartered firm made up just ten lawyers in the Americas, including four in New York and two in Washington DC, and a total of three promotions in Asia.

Promotions will go into effect January 1, 2015 across 12 of the firm’s global practices. Of all the partners promoted, ten are English-law qualified, with half based in London, and half outside of the UK. Over the last four years, the firm said it has made up 19 lawyers in London in total.

Last year, White & Case made up 18 partners across the entire firm, down from 28 promotions in 2012.

White & Case City head Oliver Brettle said: ‘The breadth of practices and locations these lawyers represent are indicative of the firm’s ambition to continue to build out our practices across EMEA in line with our global strategy and the needs of our clients.’

jaishree.kalia@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Latest accounts do not reflect performance, says White & Case as filings show City revenue edging down

Latest accounts do not reflect performance, says White & Case as filings show City revenue edging down

White & Case‘s most recent limited liability partnership (LLP) accounts filed at Companies House show turnover in its UK and Africa offices dropped 2% in the financial year ending December 2013.

The LLP that is described as providing legal services for UK, Europe and Africa saw turnover decline from £139.9m in 2012 to just under £137m in 2013, while operating profit dropped by 7% to £52.5m in 2013 from £56.4m in 2012.

A further breakdown in the filings revealed turnover of the London office was down by 1.8% from £138.6m in 2012 to £136.1m in 2013, while accounted activities in Africa were down 35% from £1.3m in 2012 to just under £842,000 across the same period.

The firm said in the filings that the drop came from ‘challenging economic conditions’ and that it is ‘continuing to seek opportunities for sustainability growth across practice groups in addition to improving operational efficiency’.

Staff costs fell by 4% from £51m to just under £49m, with wages and salaries decreasing 11% on the previous year. These drops came following a drop in staff members, excluding partners – in 2013 the partnership employed 245 fee-earners on average per month, compared to 262 in 2012, though some of this reduction is due to changes in accounting treatment of staffing costs for fee-earners.

Nevertheless, the firm did enjoy a 68% rise in cash in hand on its consolidated balance sheet from £4.1m in 2012 to £6.9m in 2013 over the financial year ending December 2013. Net current assets were also up by 19% from £31.9m to £37.9m, while total assets less current liabilities grew 15% to £40.6m from £34.8m across the previous year.

White & Case argues, with some justification, that there is a limit to what can be gleaned from its UK accounts given the sprawling nature of its international network and as the LLP accounts do not capture all its UK revenues given the multiple legal entities it uses in the UK. The firm, which structures its business through its parent New York LLP, also somewhat unusually does not run a London P&L account, instead favouring practice area accounting.

The firm told Legal Business that while the LLP filings show figures from the UK and Africa offices, it doesn’t account for the level of work done outside of the UK for the UK office. A firm spokesperson commented: ‘White & Case is a global partnership which operates through a number of entities around the world. The firm’s financial performance in 2013 was strong and the London office was a strong contributor, as in previous years. Our UK White & Case LLP accounts do not reflect the overall performance of the London office or any other office of the firm. Any attempt to draw conclusions about financial performance of the London office, or indeed the firm as a whole, from these accounts alone would be misguided. As stated in February 2014 when the firm’s global results were published, the performance of London tracked the performance of the firm as a whole.’

However, most neutral observers would conclude that the top 20 global firm is stretching the point a little to assert that accounts for the vast bulk of its revenues in one of the world’s three key finance hubs say nothing about its business. Despite having forged one of the largest City practices owned by a US parent, White & Case’s UK office has slimmed since its credit boom peak, falling from a 365 lawyers in 2008 to 310 at the end of last year.

Earlier this year, Legal Business reported that White & Case achieved a steady 4.1% increase in global revenues to $1.44bn in 2013 from $1.38bn in the previous year, while profits per equity partner (PEP) rose 10% to $1.87m from $1.7m.

jaishree.kalia@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Checks and balances

Checks and balances

 MARKET VIEW – ARBITRATION 

What’s so great about scrutiny? ICC International Court of Arbitration secretary general Andrea Carlevaris discusses his institution’s calling card with White & Case partner Michael Polkinghorne

There are no bad arbitrators, only inappropriate arbitrators for specific cases. So says ICC International Court of Arbitration secretary general, Andrea Carlevaris, the man charged with registering more than 750 disputes a year at the Paris-headquartered body. Indeed, such is the demand for its services that the court now works through August – ‘a very serious consideration’ in France, John Beechey, the institution’s president, told the audience at an arbitration event in Prague last summer.


 

Legal Business

What’s in store for London’s Commercial Court?

What’s in store for London’s Commercial Court?

 MARKET VIEW – LITIGATION 

White & Case’s head of litigation, John Reynolds, looks at what impact the development of other countries’ specialist commercial courts will have on the future of London as a centre for international dispute resolution

Despite relentless competition, most notably from New York, the choice of English governing law dominates the international contracts market. So says a recent article from the July/August issue of Legal Business with the benefit of opinion from partners at a number of large international firms (including White & Case’s own David Goldberg).