Turnover up at Cuatrecasas, down at Gomez-Acebo in tough Spanish market

Iberian firm Cuatrecasas Gonçalves Pereira has reported turnover growth of 1.2 per cent in 2012, with revenue hitting €245.6m (£212m) thanks to a strong performance from its nine international offices.

Cuatrecasas’s result follows a turnover rise of less than 1 per cent last year (7 February 2012), when revenues reached €242.6m.

Meanwhile, smaller Spanish rival Gómez-Acebo & Pombo has announced a fall in turnover of a similar proportion. Its revenues fell by 1.4 per cent, from €62.8m in 2011 to €61.9m last year (17 February 2012). While the result means the firm’s revenues have dropped for two years running, this year’s fall is much smaller than the 7.7 per cent drop reported in 2012.

Cuatrecasas said large corporate transactions represented 34 per cent of turnover, with the tax practice contributing a further 32 per cent. Litigation accounted for 23 per cent with employment making up the 11 per cent balance.

The firm said its international offices – in Brussels, Casablanca, London, Luanda, Maputo, New York, Paris, Sao Paulo and Shanghai – had seen turnover rise by over 15 per cent.

Despite the sluggish domestic market in Spain and Portugal, Cuatrecasas added that it had not had to make staff cuts last year.

The firm advised on a number of finance transactions last year, including on transferring assets from Spain’s nationalised banks. Other deals included acting for Meliá Hotels International on a strategic alliance with Chinese real estate group Greenland.

Cuatrecasas also won the mandate to advise a consortium of banks on Spain’s largest-ever financing transaction (18 May 2012), which saw the creation of a €35bn fund designed to rid local authorities of debt. Controversially, the firm agreed to do the work for a fee of just €1 (23 July 2012).

Last year Cuatrecasas also reshaped its management structure, splitting the roles of chairman and chief executive for the first time (14 September 2012) and brought all its partners into the equity (26 March 2012). It also entered into a non-exclusive best friends agreement with Italy’s Chiomenti, France’s Gide Loyrette Nouel and German firm Gleiss Lutz (26 November 2012).

At Gómez-Acebo, the revenue fall was offset by a rise in profitability thanks to cost and staff cuts in 2012 and increased productivity. Partners at the firm’s first general meeting of 2013 were told that productivity was up by 6.4 per cent, average hourly rates rose by 12 per cent, billable time increased by 1.9 per cent and the average value of cases by 24.4 per cent. The firm made a 9 per cent cut in its headcount and slashed expenses by 4.5 per cent. As a result partners’ equity went up by 7 per cent.

In a statement managing partner Manuel Martín, who has been re-elected to the role for a further three years, said: “Last year we set the goal of increasing our competitiveness, becoming a higher quality business and achieving a more efficient, more productive and more financially sound structure. 2012 seems to confirm that the decisions we made a year ago were the right ones. In 2013, we’ll continue on this line of obvious improvement.”