Pre-merger Salans reports modest revenue growth

European firm Salans has reported growth of 1.6 per cent in its final full financial year as an independent firm ahead of its three-way merger with SNR Denton and Fraser Milner Casgrain at the end of this month.

Salans’ turnover for 2012 rose to €209.5m (£181.5m), up from €206.3m in 2011 (5 March 2012). Net profit was up to €42.5m, a rise of 1.4 per cent when reported on a cash basis, although Salans’ final LLP accounts showed net profit of €62.5m on an accruals basis in 2011 (24 September 2012).

The firm will become part of Dentons at the end of March (22 February 2013), when its London office will join SNR Denton’s UK, Middle East and Africa LLP. Meanwhile, SNR Denton’s Moscow and Paris offices are joining Salans’ European LLP.

Salans’ managing partner Dariusz Oleszczuk said he was hoping the merger would be the catalyst for growth in a number of jurisdictions where legacy Salans would have been too small to make a real impact.

When it came to 2012 figures, Oleszczuk said he had been “hoping for better results” but acknowledged that Salans, like a number of other European firms, had seen pressure on fees and a tougher market for corporate and banking and finance work.

Oleszczuk added that real estate had seen something of a “bounce back”, particularly in Russia, while Salans’ Turkish office had also performed well following the signing of a new alliance agreement last year (12 January 2012).

He said the firm’s diversity had paid off, allowing for overall growth despite the financial crisis in Europe as a whole. “There’s always a jurisdiction in which there’s high growth and activity levels,” Oleszczuk said. For instance, Salans’ Kazakhstan office had increased its revenue by 25 per cent last year.

Future growth was likely in Russia, the CIS and Central Asia, Oleszczuk added.

“We see [the merger] as a much stronger business engine for the combining firms and the ability to get into markets in which we’re not present but in which we believe that strategically we should be, but also strengthening in the markets in which we already operate,” he said. “As a larger and stronger organisation we’ll be looking at opportunities in that region.”

The merged Dentons will maintain its association relationships with firms in jurisdictions where it does not currently have offices, including Belarus and Georgia from the Salans side and Portugal and Turkmenistan from the SNR Denton side.

Salans’ 2012 headcount figures were slightly down on those of the previous year, with overall staff of 1,542 compared to 1,577 in 2011. There was a net decrease of 10 qualified lawyers and nine partners, although the firm’s equity partnership increased from 76 in 2011 to 83 in 2012.

During the course of 2012 Salans restructured its China practice, closing its Beijing and Hong Kong offices and losing a number of lawyers from Shanghai (6 June 2012). A number of other partners left the firm, including Paris white collar crime expert Ludovic Malgrain (15 February 2012) and Moscow litigation head Alexei Panich (3 September 2012). Hires included Baker & McKenzie’s Russian competition head Marat Mouradov (1 February 2012).