BLP delays PEP announcement as insiders predict 35 per cent drop

Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) has delayed the release of its PEP figure until September as insiders claim profits have dropped by as much as 40 per cent.

Net profit at the firm was £63.6m at the end of the 2011/12 financial year, with PEP down 7 per cent to £660,000. However the firm is keeping tight-lipped about its PEP figure this year, with managing partner Neville Eisenberg telling The Lawyer last week that the firm is “in the dark” over the number.

He said: ”We’re as in the dark as you are. We felt that this year we’d wait, as no firm knows their exact figures this early.”

Various sources have said PEP has fallen by at least 35 per cent, with some suggesting that equity partners at the firm could even see their remuneration packages halved.

BLP, however, insisted that it was waiting ”until we have completed and fully reconciled accounting processes for the year” to publish. A spokesperson said: “We will announce PEP and profit in September.” 

BLP equity partner numbers increased over the last year from 96.4 to 101.9, while PEP dropped by 7 per cent in 2011/12 from £712,000. Turnover for 2012/13 fell 5 per cent, from £246m to £233m (19 July 2013).

This year the firm delayed paying out bonuses to senior equity partners as a measure of caution in the difficult market (8 March 2013). Following a structural overhaul in 2010/11, 25 per cent of senior equity partners’ pay comes from a bonus, which is tied to individual performance across a range of financial and non-financial indicators. According to a spokesperson bonuses to equity partners have now been paid.

Earlier this month BLP confirmed it was to axe 102 legal and secretarial staff in its latest jobs cuts round (5 July 2013) following a consultation that kicked off in May (14 May 2013).

The move is reminiscent of BLP’s last redundancy round in 2009, when 85 jobs were slashed through a mixture of compulsory and voluntary redundancies (22 June 2009).

In the 2011/12 financial year, staff costs at the firm rose above £100m with net debt increasing to £14.8m (25 February 2013).