SJ Berwin’s final LLP accounts show turnover rise but profit fall

Legacy SJ Berwin saw its group revenue increase by 1.7 per cent, from £179.9m to £182.9m, during its last financial year before merging with King & Wood Mallesons.

The turnover rise is less than originally reported by the firm (17 June 2013). In contrast to its original prediction, the firm also saw a decline in net profit last year, with a fall of 2.9 per cent from £59.8m to £58.1m. 

SJ Berwin paid out £10.8m of this sum in remuneration to members, leaving £46.2m to be distributed to members on a discretionary basis – 6 per cent less than in 2011/12 when £49.1m was distributed.

During the 2012/13 financial year the LLP paid off its £4.2m overdraft, while topping up its cash flow to hold £8.9m at the bank and in hand. However bank loans due within the year almost doubled from £10.5m to £20m, resulting in a £3.1m rise in net debt from £8m at the end of 2011/12 to £11.1m last year.

The members at the peak of the firm’s equity structure were paid £833,981, a 10.1 per cent drop on the figure of £927,648 in 2011/12.

Of the firm’s income, two-thirds was brought in by the firm’s City practice, which increased its fee income by 1.4 per cent to reach £121.5m. Its eight European offices had a better year with revenue rising by 2.1 per cent to £56.7m between 2011/12 and 2012/13.

Asia Pacific brought in the smallest chunk of the firm’s total turnover, but had the biggest year-on-year increase with revenues rising 10.5 per cent to reach a total of £999,000. 

In June 2013, managing partner Rob Day said that the firm’s revenue rise was partly thanks to a strong year from its corporate and funds teams. Meanwhile, its recently launched energy and infrastructure practice and Luxembourg operation both had solid starts. Funds, private equity transactions, real estate and finance were all among the practices to see an uptick in turnover .

SJ Berwin topped up its number of fee-earners from 444 to 466 in 2012/13, while member numbers also rose from 155 to 162.

The results do not take into account the firm’s $1bn merger with Asia Pacific giant King & Wood Mallesons, which went live on 31 October 2013. The combined firm now consists of four entitities – Australia, mainland China, Hong Kong and legacy SJ Berwin in the UK, Europe and the Middle East (31 October 2013). 

In the wake of the tie-up, the Asia Pacific region generates about 70 per cent of firm turnover. Legacy SJ Berwin contributes about 30 per cent to the combined total.