Norton Rose takes currency bets with £55.6m loan

Norton Rose borrowed £55.6m in the 2010-11 financial year while its net debt increased by £9.7m, the firm’s latest LLP accounts show.

It deposited £21.3m in the bank in the same period, meaning its net debt for 2010-11 was £34.3m.

This compares with a net debt of £24.7m in 2009-10, when it borrowed only £23.5m and deposited £8.5m.

Roughly half of the £9.7m increase in net debt, or some £5m, was spent on refitting the Moscow and Paris offices, while the other half went towards growing the business globally, COO Kevin Mortell said.

£49.6m of the £55.6m borrowed is due for repayment after one year, most of which is due within two and five years. The remaining £6.1m is due within a year.

The firm borrows in euros and dollars but deposits money in the bank in pounds sterling.

At the same time, the firm eliminated a £9.7m overdraft that appeared in its accounts in 2009-10.

The LLP accounts, filed this week at Companies House, do not cover the Norton Rose group’s Australian, Canadian or South African arms, which are financially independent of the main LLP.

The highest-earning partner in the LLP took home £839,335, down from £888,780 in 2009-10, with profit for distribution among members increasing from £71.2m to £76.7m.

Turnover for the main LLP was £333.2m, up from £307.4m in 2009-10. This compares with £484m for the global group in 2010-11 (14 June 2011).

Staff costs increased by just under 9 per cent, from £138.9m in 2009-10 to £151.2m in 2010-11, while fee-earner numbers went up 9 per cent and business services headcount increased by 2 per cent.