Net debt drops 32 per cent at DLA Piper International

DLA Piper International’s net debt dropped by 32 per cent in 2012/13, according to the firm’s latest LLP filings.

While the firm’s cash at bank reduced by 14.9 per cent from £35.1m to £29.9m, borrowings also dropped by 37 per cent resulting in a £15m decrease in net debt from £47.5m to £32.4m.

The LLPs – which cover all of the firm’s activities outside of the US – also show that turnover in the UK fell by 3.4 per cent from £287.3m in 2011/12 to £277.5m.

UK revenue was also down last year when the LLPs showed that DLA Piper’s UK income was £287m in 2011/12, down from £290m the year before (4 February 2013).

However, the firm saw turnover increase in Continental Europe by 3.9 per cent from £279m to £290m. Likewise the firm saw growth in its Asia Pacific and Middle East practices.

Revenue in Asia Pacific grew from £202.3m to £210.2m, while the Middle East saw 15.5 per cent growth in revenue from its group offices and a 27.6 per cent growth among its joint ventures in the region, equating to an additional £3.1m overall in that region.

The LLPs seperate the revenue in the Middle East into that of the group offices and that of the firm’s joint ventures because local regulatory requirements which mean that full financial intgration is only possible where the local bar rules allow it.

The highest paid partner – understood to be the firm’s joint chief executive and managing partner Sir Nigel Knowles – received £1.8m in 2012/13, a 3.3 per cent increase on 2011/12.

DLA Piper’s switch to an all-equity partnership on 1 May 2012 led to a £28.1m cash injection from partners in the international LLP. As The Lawyer reported in July 2012, the move was made to align the firm with the US side of the business, and to “take away artificial barriers to earning” according to Knowles (30 July 2012).

It also means that there was a notable increase in the number of equity members of the LLP, there were 733 at the end of 2012/13 compared to 246 the previous year. There were 19 non-equity members compared to 478 the previous year.