Shearman misses growth target as global PEP falls

Shearman & Sterling’s London office has posted a 2.7 per cent increase in revenue from $144.6m to $148.6m for the 2015 financial year.

Globally Shearman also posted an increase in turnover of 2 per cent from $845m in 2014 to $860.3m last year, but this is understood to have missed the level of turnover it had been budgeting for by around $50m, with sources suggesting it had expected a 2015 total revenue of $910m.

Shearman also saw its average profit per equity partner (PEP) fall by 3.7 per cent to $1.84m.

In terms of headcount globally equity partner numbers rose from 157 to 162 while non-equity partners decreased from 34 to 26.

The firm added 12 lateral partners in 2015 and made 13 internal partner promotions. Total lawyer numbers at Shearman stood at 834 last year.

In London, Shearman’s largest office after New York, total lawyer headcount stood at 185 last year including 37 partners. Two of those partners were laterals, with Shearman bringing in international arbitration specialist Jeremy Sharpe from the US Department of State and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s telecommunications, media and technology co-head Frank Miller.

The firm also made two promotions last year in London, investment funds lawyer John Adams and international arbitration lawyer Alexander Uff, as part of a 13-strong round.

In December 2015 Shearman announced it was making up 12 new partners worldwide for this year, with five of the promotions coming in London, effective January 2016.

Exits during the year included private equity partner Ben Rodham, who left to join Linklaters in December.

Shearman EMEA managing partner Nick Buckworth confirmed that the global revenue figure was lower than expected but said that this was the result of a combination of factors.

“We saw a slight softening in the economy and a number of deals that should have happened either slowed, hesitated or didn’t come off,” said Buckworth. “As a result payments just slowed. We would have been north of $900m if that hadn’t happened. Had we achieved the same collection profile as in a normal year we would have been on target, assuming year-on-year inventory remained the same.”

Buckworth said that while the London office had “experienced the same headwinds as the firm as a whole”, several parts of the practice stood out during 2015. These included the private equity group, which had benefited from key client relationships such as Bridgepoint, which Shearman advised  on its acquisition of Element Materials Technology from 3i Group and on the sale of LGC to Kohlberg Kravis Roberts last year.

Shearman’s London office participated in a number of high-profile matters last year including several in the firm’s core sector focus areas such as energy and technology.

It advised Liberty Global on two major transactions: its $8.2bn acquisition of Cable & Wireless Communications; and its investment stake in Lions Gate Entertainment.

Shearman also advised the lenders on the engineering, procurement, construction, operation, development, financing and design of the 200 MW Saih al Dahal independent power generation plant, the first private sector solar project in Dubai.

In addition Shearman advised the underwriters on ABN AMRO’s €3.8bn IPO and privatisation, the largest-ever Dutch privatisation and the largest-ever Dutch IPO; the underwriters on Poste Italiane’s €3.4bn IPO, the largest privatisation in a decade in Italy; and Abu Dhabi Global Market on its establishment as an international financial centre in the United Arab Emirates.

Shearman also opened two offices in 2015 in Dubai and Saudi Arabia.

Shearman is now in the final year of a three-year growth plan, which was spearheaded by the firm’s former European chief Creighton Condon after he was made senior partner in 2012 (2 May 2012).