Correction, 7/1/14, 10:50 a.m. EST: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that Clifford Chance earned its highest profits ever for the fiscal year ended April 30. The firm recorded its highest revenue ever. We regret the error.
Magic Circle firm Clifford Chance has recorded its highest revenue ever thanks to a surge in global dealmaking.
The firm released its financials for the most recent fiscal year, reporting a 7 percent revenue increase—or 1.359 billion pounds ($2.175 billion)—for the 12-month period ended April 30, 2014, compared with the same period the year before. Profits per equity partner, meanwhile, increased 16 percent to 1.14 million pounds ($1.83 million).
Matthew Layton, managing partner for Clifford Chance, told The Am Law Daily in a phone interview from London that all of the firm’s regions—which include 36 offices in 26 countries—and six practice areas experienced growth in the most recent fiscal year. That was in sharp contrast to its results from the year prior, when overall revenue fell 2.5 percent and profits per equity partner dipped by 9 percent—the first time the firm’s PPEP had seen a drop since the 2009 recession, according to The Lawyer.
Clifford Chance blamed the slumping numbers on difficult economic conditions in the eurozone. Magic Circle firms in general took a hit during that period, when mergers and acquisitions activity in Western Europe was at its worst since 2009.
Since then, M&A and initial public offerings in Europe, the U.S. and Asia have rallied, and Clifford Chance’s fortunes have improved along with it.
“What was particularly pleasing was to see strong growth across all the regions and our practice areas,” Layton says. “It also reflects the strength of our geographical footprint, which is something we have invested heavily in. Some of the transactions illustrate that very well with the capital flows from East to West into Europe and the U.S.”
Layton said the uptick in transactions started in the U.S. more than a year ago before spreading to Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. Some of the major deals the firm handled included advising China’s Dongfeng Motor Group in February 2014 on its equity investment in PSA Peugeot Citroen Group, Europe’s second-largest automobile manufacturer, in a deal valued at $1.1 billion, according to Bloomberg .
In initial public offerings, Clifford Chance advised Banco do Brasil on its IPO of BB Seguridade, the bank’s insurance unit, which was the biggest IPO globally of 2013 at $4.25 billion, according to Bloomberg. The firm also played a role in four of the largest IPOs last year in China, as well as the $930 million IPO of the Empire State Realty Trust, owner of the Empire State Building in New York, in October 2013.
Layton says Clifford Chance is also reaping rewards from investing in new offices and areas of importance to clients, including a new joint venture with a firm in Saudi Arabia that opened in January, as well as an association with an Indonesia firm, Linda Wadyati and Partners, that same month. The firm also brought in eight lateral partners over three years as well as a senior counsel, and relocated one of its London partners to establish a financial regulatory group, according to a firm spokeswoman.
Layton recently proposed trimming Clifford Chance’s 16-member management committee, which handles strategy and finances, to as few as nine members to streamline decision making in line with clients’ interests, but he would not discuss the proposal further on Monday, saying the proposal had not yet been voted on by partners. If passed, it would be Layton’s first major change since taking over as global managing partner on May 1.
Clifford Chance’s head count stood at 587 partners, including 401 equity partners, in its most recent fiscal year.