Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
UK top 200 ranking: 5
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer had a muted 2011–12, with turnover remaining flat, net profit dropping by 2 per cent and average profit per equity partner (PEP) falling by 1 per cent, giving respective figures of £1.14bn, £535m and £1.3m. This has been the picture for the magic circle firm for three years now.
The three-year stasis means that in turnover terms Freshfields is now the smallest of the magic circle excluding Slaughter and May, with Allen & Overy’s (A&O) growth of 6 per cent last year being enough to push its rival down into fourth place.
That said, Freshfields held onto its crown as the magic circle leader on PEP, with Linklaters coming closest on a figure of £1.24m. The last time Freshfields was beaten on PEP by a magic circle rival was in 2006-07, when Linklaters posted £1.15m against Freshfields’ £1.03m.
While the firm admitted that it found the markets challenging in the 2011–12 financial year, especially given its large presence in the eurozone, it continued to win roles on enviable mandates. Spain managing partner Iñaki Gabilondo and London restructuring partner Richard Tett advised Spanish real estate group Metrovacesa on its €5bn (£4.4bn) restructuring, with Clifford Chance acting for the banks while corporate partner Julian Long advised Nycomed, Nordic Capital and a Credit Suisse-led consortium on the Swiss drug company’s €9.6bn (£8.4bn) acquisition by Japanese Takeda Pharmaceutical Company (advised by CMS Cameron McKenna).
It has not been all good news for Freshfields, though. In London veteran corporate partner Simon Witty quit to launch an English law practice for Davis Polk & Wardwell.
In the US, Freshfields continued to expand its litigation presence with the hire of Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel partner Timothy Harkness. It also installed its first-ever global head of Islamic finance with the addition of A&O senior associate Tarek El-Assra as counsel in Dubai.
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Analysis from The Lawyer
Of all the magic circle firms Allen & Overy (A&O) is probably the most transparent when it comes to reporting figures. It was the first of the group to become an LLP under senior partner Guy Beringer, an ardent advocate of transparency.
(1) Thomas Hicks; (2) George Gillett; (3) Kop Football (Cayman) Ltd; (4) Kop Football (Holdings) Ltd; (5) Kop Football Ltd v The Royal Bank Of Scotland plc and (1) Kop Football (Cayman) Ltd; (2) Thomas Hicks; (3) George Gillett; (4) UKSV Holdings Company Ltd; (5) NESV I LLC; (6) Kop Football Ltd; (7) Kop Football (Holdings) Ltd and (8) Kop Investment LLC v (1) Martin Broughton; (2) Christian Purslow & Ian Ayre
Overview65 Fleet Street
Turnover (£m): 1,139
Total lawyers: 2,010