Speechly Bircham has become the latest firm to post record profits based primarily on a stellar performance by its property team.
Average profit per equity partner (PEP) smashed through the £300,000 barrier, rising 40 per cent from £265,000 to £365,000, the firm’s best-ever performance. Turnover rose more modestly, up 16 per cent to £29m.
Revenues from the property group increased as a proportion of the total from 17 per cent last year to just under 20 per cent. This was partly driven by work for Royal Bank of Scotland and a number of major projects for other clients, including the disposal of the UK property portfolio of Israeli-quoted Alony Hetz for £216m.
The banking and finance team also saw significant growth, helped partly by the successful cross-selling of hedge fund Wharton Asset Management from the private client team. The firm had originally advised the partners on tax structuring for the formation of the fund. It then picked up work on a series of deals, including the launch of H2 Finance in March last year and the launch of G Square Finance, a $1.25bn asset backed securities collateralised debt obligation (CDO). GMAC Commercial Finance has also been an active client of the finance team last year, with the Yorkshire Chemicals management buy-out financing a stand-out deal.
Managing partner Michael Lingens admitted it had been “a spectacular year” for the property team but said all the firm’s five core practices had performed well. He added that the partnership restructuring last year, which saw two partners de-equitised, had inevitably had a positive effect on the PEP levels. However, he believed the results reflected “several years of hard work to make our core business strategy pay off.”