Global paths

London is the bright spot in Gide Loyrette Nouel’s international downturn

When Gide Loyrette Nouel embarked on a strategy of internationalisation it was carving out a unique path in the French market. None of its domestic rivals have followed the same route of opening offices around the world while also maintaining a Gallic identity and a large presence in Paris.

In the past few years the firm has found that strategy tough to capitalise on. Last week (12 September) the firm confirmed its turnover was down 8.5 per cent on last year to €192.2m (£154.1m). The last time Gide posted global revenues of less than €200m was in 2005, and turnover has now dropped for the past three years.

Gide chart

Gide had a pretty good recession up until 2009, when things took a turn for the worse and the decline set in. Managing partner Stéphane Puel, who took over at the start of 2012, said the firm has been hit hard by the slump in French M&A activity in the past year in particular.

Puel argues that Gide has been harder-hit than its local rivals because it often acts on the larger transactions – but the figures produced by the rest of the French market do not quite support his argument, with turnover growth reported by the UK’s magic circle, most US firms in Paris and the French elite, all of whom also win roles on the big deals.

Interestingly, although its profile remains low in the City, Gide’s London office had a better year than most of the firm’s international offices. Its LLP accounts showed a £200,000 increase in revenue last year and a reduction in the losses posted for the past two years. Its move last week to shift arbitration partner Rupert Reece back to London from Paris, filling a hole left by the departure of Nicholas Tse earlier this year, should help the office to continue on this upwards path.

The firm has a solid client list which includes France’s biggest banks, France Télécom and Veolia Environnement, and Puel intends to try and improve Gide’s client relationships and maintain its pool of lawyers, while also examining the best route for the firm to take globally – all critical elements for the firm’s future health.

Joanne Harris