Dentons hikes bank loans and pays hefty tax bill

Dentons’ UKMEA arm took out £5.4m in new loans in 2013, hiking its borrowings by £3m in a year.

In the first set of consolidated accounts filed with Companies House following the firm’s tripartite merger (8 November 2013) Dentons revealed £3.8m of bank loans up from £828,00 the previous year.

That may have informed the firm’s more austere approach to discretionary member remuneration for the firm’s 115 members. Profits for discretionary division among members plummeted from almost £1m in 2012 to £370,000 in 2013 , a big change even considering the £27.7m of other members’ remuneration.

Captial contributions introduced by members also fell from £5.9 to £2.8m over the same period and the firm’s highest-paid partner took home £564,000 in 2013, down from £683,000 in 2012.

Despite this, profit and revenue were down only slightly at the firm, with turnover dropping 1.5 per cent from £144.8m to £148.2m and profit after tax down to £27.7m from £31m.

But debt soared, with the total of loans due for repayment between two and five years more than quadrupling from £582,000 to £2.9m. Loans due for repayment within two years were up to £870,000 from £246,000.

The firm’s tax bill also leapt up after the firm received money from HMRC the previous year. In 2012 the firm received a £201,000 payout in corporation tax in relief on overseas tax paid. But in 2013 it paid a corporation tax bill of £196,000. Overall it took home £16m in taxes in 2012 but in 2013 shouldered a bill of £454,000.

Salaries dropped from £51.4m to £48.1m between 2012 and 2013 for the firm’s 435 fee earners, a reduced figure from 471 the previous year.

Staff numbers also took a hit over the last year, with fee earner numbers dropping from 471 to 435 and members going from 118 to 115.

The firm lost a number of partners over 2013 including former Middle East head of dispute resolution and construction David Risbridger to Simmons & Simmons in November (7 November 2013). That followed former Middle East arbitration head Paul Stothard, who left for SJ Berwin in September (3 September 2013).

But recently the firm has been building back capacity in Europe, hiring a nine-strong competition team in Turkey (20 November 2013) and adding two partners to its Middle East base in Novemer 2013 (18 November 2013).