Ashurst sees drop in cash reserves pre merger

Ashurst saw a £13.9m drop in net funds and cash at bank in the financial year before its £550m merger with legacy Blake Dawson.

Net funds at the firm went from £20.9m in 2011/12 to £6.9m in 2012/13 according to accounts filed with Companies House yesterday. The firm put it down to a £14m cash decrease in 2012/13, from £21.2m last year to £7.2m.

The firm explained the decrease with a lower operating profit, though revenue and profit at the firm remained broadly stable. Turnover for the last financial year went from £321.2m to £324.9m and profit down from £103.6m to £99.7m.

That left profit available for division among the firm’s 189 members at £97.9m, down slightly on last year’s £101.7m.

Staff costs at the firm were up slightly, with a boosted staff number of 1,748, up from 1,673 adding to a bill of £143.9m, up from £137.6m.

Ashurst paid £130.4m in salaries in 2012/13, an increase on the £125m bill last year. The firm also took £4m from partners in capital contributions as part of the ongoing capital reorganisations the firm announced two years ago in the run up to its merger.

The highest-paid partner took home a similar amount, from £1m to £977,000.

Despite the decreased cash reserves the firm did not make any sizable investments. Rent costs remained similar, with deposits due after more than one year remaining at £1.1m, compared to £1m last year and the firm reduced its bank loans by £5m, to £59,000.

It paid £1.2m to retired members in 2012/13, compared to last year when it gave £9.8m to former members.

The firm also paid out £91.3m in drawings and distributions to members in 2012/13, compared to £97.5m the previous year.

The accounts do not take account of the firm’s 2013 Australian merger (26 September 2013) or its re-opening of an office in Glasgow, headed up by former Dundas & Wilson partner Michael Polson (12 June 2013).

The firm saw post-merger revenue rise by £298m for the half year, compared to £281.7m for the same period in 2012 (3 December 2013). Managing partner James Collis said the 5.8 per cent increase in revenue was down to stronger economic conditions and an uptick in transactional work in early 2013/14.