Norton Rose Fulbright debt plummets after cash increase

Norton Rose Fulbright reduced its net debt by 72 per cent last year, the firm’s LLP accounts have shown, with a 119 per cent increase in cash negating a rise in bank borrowings.

The accounts show that at the end of the last financial year Norton Rose Fulbright held £47.8m in cash in hand and at the bank – up from £21.8m at the start of the year. 

But the firm’s bank borrowings rose to £55m from £47.4m in 2011/12. Almost 30 per cent of that figure, or £16m, is repayable within one year.

The rise in cash meant that net debt shrank significantly, from £26.1m at the start of 2012/13 to £7.5m at year-end.

Norton Rose Fulbright saw its fee income increase by 3.6 per cent, from £354.9m to £367.8m, according to the accounts. Its profit for the year before taxation rose from £83.2m to £105m, while the amount of revenue to be divvied out among members also saw an uptick, from £81.1m to £96.7m.

The number of fee-earners within the LLP diminished from 1,061 to 988. The total number of support staff employed also decreased slightly from 1,063 to 1,046. 

The change in numbers had an impact on the bottom line, with the firm saving £5.9m, or almost 4 per cent, in staff costs in 2012/13. Total staff costs for 2012/13 were £146.5m.

Norton Rose Fulbright’s highest paid member saw an uptick in pay. Their share of profit rang in at £1.2m – an increase on the £1m paid out the previous year. 

The LLP accounts cover Norton Rose Fulbright’s operations in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. 

When the firm’s operations in Australia, Canada and South Africa are included, global revenue hit £845.3m last July (5 July 2013). 

Legacy Norton Rose’s merger with Fulbright went live on 3 June 2013, creating a firm with overall revenues of about £1.3bn (2 June 2013).