Trowers opens in Malaysia, reports 13 per cent rise in profit

Trowers & Hamlins has confirmed the launch of a representative office in Kuala Lumpur at the same time as unveiling a 13 per cent rise in net profit for the 2011-12 financial year.

Jonathan Adlington
Jonathan Adlington

The City firm’s revenue figure increased by 3 per cent to £80.5m in 2011-12 while net profit was up to £12.5m, giving the firm a profit margin of 15.5 per cent. Senior partner Jonathan Adlington, who has confirmed that he will step down from the role next year, described the results as “very positive after a good recession”.

“The 2010-11 financial year was the worst one we had for a long time. The 2011-12 results show that the firm has bounced back,” said Adlington. “There’s loads of confidence in the firm in every sector. We’re back on track following a series of restructuring and reorganisation internally, particularly in the public sector group and the Middle East group.”

While revenue at the firm’s London office has been growing steadily, its regional offices – in Birmingham, Manchester and Exeter – have been the most profitable.

“We want to have more growth in our regional offices. While we’ll remain a City practice, we want to be able to provide more cost-effective services to our clients from our regional offices,” Adlington said.

The firm has budgeted for 5 per cent revenue growth for the current financial year, with the firm’s international strategy and plans to grow its private client practice in the UK seen as key drivers.

On the international side, Trowers has set up a representative office in Malaysia’s capital city Kuala Lumpur. The firm’s Dubai managing partner Nick White will relocate to Kuala Lumpur to head the new base. The Dubai managing partner role will be undertaken by the firm’s current UAE head Abdullah Mutawi.

“Our current international practice is strongly Middle East clients and Islamic finance oriented. Malaysia is Asia’s Islamic financial hub and has a lot of synergies with our Middle East practice,” said Nicolas Edmondes, a partner in Trowers’ international department. “It’s a logical and strategic location for us to start our Asia presence.”

Over the past 10 years, the firm has been involved in a number of projects and cross-border investments involving Malaysian clients. For example, the firm has been instructed by large Malaysia corporations such as Tenaga Nasional Berhad and Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB) for various projects. A recent highlight is the firm’s role in advising PNB on its purchase of two office sites in London from German fund manager KanAm for £500m.

Under the current law in Malaysia, the representative office is not allowed to provide legal services directly. However, the Malaysian government has recently amended its Legal Profession Act to allow foreign law firms to establish a presence in Malaysia and practise law. The firm expects to apply for a licence once the relevant regulatory framework is in place.

Separately, when Adlington retires from the top role on 1 March 2013 London-based corporate finance partner Jennie Gubbins will take over as senior partner.