Camerons borrowed £4.5m to fund 2009-10 de-equitisations

CMS Cameron McKenna borrowed a total of £4.5m to fund one-off payments to partners it de-equitised at the end of the last financial year, LLP accounts filed with Companies House have revealed.

The City firm moved 16 partners out of the equity in May 2010 following a year that saw group turnover fall by 12.4 per cent from 237m in 2008-09 to 207.7m in 2009-10.

However, revenue including a share in the joint venture set up in Moscow when the office split from the main group in 2009 to merge with two other CMS network firms stood at 215.7m. This is a 10.3 per cent fall from the 240.5m posted in 2008-09. Profit over the same period fell 23.1 per cent from 62.2m to 47.8m.

Profit available for distribution among members at Camerons fell by almost a third, from £57.5m in 2008-09 to £38.4m last year.

The firm’s head of financial control Julian Eastlake confirmed that the falling profits meant that some of the regular profit distributions – made every two months at Camerons – were withheld in the previous financial year.

He added that the firm could not rule out taking similar measures this year.

“We’ve managed the distributions according to cashflow,” he said. “It’s something we keep a very close eye on throughout the year.”

The firm held £9.2m in cash at the bank and in hand at the end of the financial year, down from £16m in 2008-09.

The accounts also reveal a drop in employee headcount for the firm. Average staff numbers fell from 1,563 in 2009 to 1,380 in 2010. Fee-earner headcount fell by 83, while the average number of support staff was slashed by 100. Across the full group, the firm saw its wage bill drop by more than £9m.

Camerons said that its flex programme introduced in May 2009 led to 73 redundancies in the group.