Global investment hits Herbies’ profit

Herbert Smith is predicting a drop in profit for the last financial year, while revenue looks set to rise by between 12 and 13 per cent.

Revenue has remained reasonably robust, with the expectation that last year’s £296m will rise to somewhere in the region of £333m.

Senior partner David Gold said heavy investment over the past 12 months has affected profitability, with the firm predicting that average profit per equity partner will be equal to or lower than last year’s sum of £839,000.

The firm has invested in new premises in Brussels, Paris, Russia and Tokyo; a refurbishment of its London headquarters; expansion of the Beijing and Shanghai offices; and an office launch in Dubai.

Having poached Norton Rose partners Nadim Khan and Zubair Mir to open the Dubai office in March, the firm is also in the process of relocating a number of existing partners to the region.

“We’ve invested heavily in the Middle East, but can’t say when that will come into profit,” said Gold.

While the cost of purchasing or upgrading property can be spread over a number of years, Gold pointed out that, on the people side, the cost is immediate.

“If I take on two new equity partners, they’re a cost at once, but they make money a year later,” he said. “Investing in people is expensive.”