Mannheimer sees turnover dip on back of sluggish M&A market

Scandinavia’s biggest firm, Mannheimer Swartling, has recorded a decrease in revenue for the 2013 year following a sluggish corporate market in its home jurisdiction of Sweden.

The firm has reported a 1 per cent fall in revenue, from SEK1.13bn in 2012 to SEK1.119bn (£105m) last year – or a fall from €132.7m to €126.4m when an annual euro exchange rate is used, which equates to a 5 per cent drop.

It is the second successive year Mannheimer has reported a turnover drop, with revenues slumping 9 per cent from SEK1.2bn between 2011 and 2012.

The decrease includes the impact of the sale of Mannheimer’s St Petersburg office to Finnish firm Borenius early last year. Around 30 staff and lawyers made the transfer. Mannheimer managing partner Jan Dernestam said the office had contributed around 4 per cent of turnover, but the transfer of some client management to the firm’s Moscow office would mean the loss of only half that.

Overall Mannheimer’s headcount dropped by some 75 people last year. As well as the St Petersburg office, Dernestam said the firm had deliberately not replaced those members of support staff leaving for other jobs or retiring.

Dernestam said the firm was now running more efficiently, with support staff reorganised into more specialised roles.

“We ended up with a much smaller and more efficient organisation,” he added.

Although Mannheimer significantly improved its positioning in M&A rankings last year compared to 2012 – finishing third in Thomson Reuters’ 2013 league tables for the whole Nordic region – Dernestam said this was in the context of a market with fewer completed large deals. As a result, corporate revenue for the firm dipped last year.

In contrast, Dernestam said the firm’s corporate, compliance and investigations practice was performing extremely strongly on the back of its 2012 instruction by telecoms giant TeliaSonera to conduct an independent review into the company’s controversial investment in Uzbekistan. Dernestam said the high-profile work had led to a number of other instructions from major companies on compliance issues.

He said 2014 was looking better for corporate work, with a number of potential IPOs in the pipeline. Dernestam added that the firm was also focusing on improving its cross-selling to existing clients, having hired a dedicated business development head last year.