CC releases delayed partner profits as finance chief quits

Clifford Chance

has at last paid out a chunk of its delayed profit distributions, but partners may have to wait until the end of next year to receive the rest of their income.

The movement on profit disbursements arrived as it emerged that Christopher Merry, Clifford Chance’s finance director for the last four and a half years, is leaving to join headhunting company Whitehead Mann.

Merry was responsible for spearheading the private placement that Clifford Chance completed this year, raising $150m (£88.1m). He is due to join Whitehead Mann in mid-January.

It is understood that a payment was made this month to partners, with those at plateau receiving £17,000, after the firm delayed quarterly distributions for July and October. Sources said it made the distribution after experiencing a “good October”.

The quarterly payments are separate to partners’ set monthly drawings.

However, apart from this month’s payout, the bulk of partners’ incomes will not be paid quarterly but will instead be disbursed on a monthly basis, beginning next February. The firm’s management will revisit the plan to accelerate payments.

The quarterly payment system was introduced just a year before Clifford Chance completed its US and German mergers and it has always had the flexibility to return monthly payments.

However, sources say the delay is causing concern to legacy Rogers & Wells partners, who are used to more regular profit payments after being run on a cash accounting basis pre-merger.

Commenting on Merry’s departure, Clifford Chance global managing partner Peter Cornell said: “Chris
has made an invaluable contribution to the strategic financial management of Clifford Chance in a period of great change for the firm.

“We very much appreciate his commitment and effective management of the firm’s finances. We’re sorry to see him go, but he goes with our very best wishes in his future role.”

The firm declined to comment on its finances.