Band of Field Fisher partners in line for property windfall

Eight partners and former partners of Field Fisher Waterhouse (FFW) are set for a payment of roughly £35,000 each when the lease ends on the premises of a media boutique it took over in the 1990s.

The beneficiaries will share an amount close to £300,000 between them later this year as part of a deal agreed when the City firm consumed Allison & Humphreys in 1997 (18 November 1997). All eight are former partners of the extinct firm.

The payment has arisen from an agreement by the FFW partnership following the takeover to pay the ongoing rent and other operating costs related to Allison & Humphreys’ former premises on 38, 40 and 42 Artillery Lane off Bishopsgate in the City.

As part of the deal, which has emerged in the firm’s LLP accounts filed in the past week at Companies House, the FFW partnership has also been collecting rental income from the Artillery Lane building on behalf of former Allison & Humphreys partners.

Although FFW is still subletting the premises they have consistently produced a net loss, which eight former Allison & Humphreys partners agreed to bear at the time of the takeover by lending an amount of money to FFW as security against future losses.

As this amount exceeded the loss from the property, the firm is now set to repay the balance to the eight partners. The balance totalled £283,065 on 30 April 2011.

FFW confirmed that the lease ends in September this year, at which point the loan accounts will be repaid to the eight partners, who are all either current or former partners of FFW.

The amount in the accounts at that point cannot be confirmed until the firm files its 2011-12 LLPs later this year or early next year.

However, based on previous figures, it is expected to be just below £300,000, meaning a windfall of roughly £35,000 for each partner.

The total in the accounts has fluctuated around the £250,000 to £300,000 mark since 2006, when it stood at £237,255, and reached a peak of £313,296 at the end of the 2007-08 financial year. It stood at £233,224 in 2007 and £294,224 in 2009, maintaining this exact level in 2010.

At the same time, the loss produced by the Artillery Lane premises has gradually increased from £61,273 in the 12 months to 31 March 2006 to £163,848 in the 2010-11 financial year.

The loss has risen every year since 2006, when the firm converted to an LLP and was first obliged to publish its full accounts. There will be no more related losses from September.

Meanwhile, the firm’s LLP accounts show a 3 per cent increase in turnover for the 2010-11 financial year, from £92.1m in 2009-10 to £95.m – a marginally bigger hike than the firm originally posted when it announced its unaudited figures in May last year (25 May 2011).

Profit available for discretionary division among partners rose by 20 per cent from £15.9m in 2009-10 to £19.1m in 2010-11, the latest accounts show.

Average employee numbers rose by 9 per cent from 532 to 580 throughout the financial year, but staff costs increased by just 3 per cent, from £36.2m to £37.4m.