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10 August 2020

Ince falls inches short of revenue target, DWF hires new chairman amid leadership shakeup

London-listed firm Ince posts first full year financial results for whole group, while Jonathan Bloomer is named DWF chairman

By Ben Rigby

The City of London Shutterstock

UK law firm Ince narrowly missed out on its revenue target for the past financial year as the London-listed firm posted its first full set of results for the whole Ince group. 

Revenue clocked in at £98.5m, just shy of the £100m target set, though group chief executive Adrian Biles said the results were pleasing given the disruption caused by Covid-19, hailing the firm for “a year of great progress.”

The firm said it made an adjusted pre-tax profit of £8m once partner profits had been deducted. It also showed net borrowings of more than £9m at the end of March. Ince said no shareholder dividend would be paid due to the uncertainty caused by the pandemic.

Biles noted the firm’s lateral recruitment of “exceptionally high-quality partners in the marine, aviation, energy and insurance sectors,” making particular reference to the arrival of a team of senior shipping lawyers from Bentleys, Stokes and Lowless.

The firm also welcomed former Hill Dickinson global head of shipping Julian Clark as senior partner in May, having been initially appointed in September last year.

DWF makes strategic hires

Elsewhere UK-listed firm DWF has acted to further refresh its management team following the abrupt departure of former chief executive officer Andrew Leaitherland at the end of May after it was forced to issue a profit warning. The firm then went on to announce a series of office closures and £15m in cost-cutting measures in June and July.

Leaitherland was replaced by former chairman Sir Nigel Knowles, with Jonathan Bloomer taking over from Knowles as chairman. Chris Sullivan, the firm’s senior independent director, becomes deputy chairman and reverts to his non-executive role having served as interim chairman ahead of Bloomer’s appointment. 

Bloomer, a chartered accountant, is the chairman of Morgan Stanley’s international business, as well as chairman of two other businesses, Arrow Global and SDL Group.

He was previously group CEO at insurance firm Prudential from 2001 to 2005, having worked his way up from finance director, before later moving to Cerberus Capital for six years. He has also held non-executive roles at Railtrack and Hargreaves Lansdown. 

Bloomer said he was looking forward to working with the new team and “implementing the very clear strategy set out by Sir Nigel aimed at taking DWF forward to a new phase of sustainable and profitable growth.”

Knowles said Bloomer’s seniority and experience in both executive and non-executive capacities were welcome, as was Sullivan’s role in working with DWF’s wider partnership and the board.

Bloomer is not the only new arrival at DWF this summer. The firm hired Ince’s former global head of insurance Kiran Soar as a partner in London. His new boss David Abbott, who heads up DWF’s London market risk team, said Soar’s recognised experience in complex insurance and reinsurance disputes made the hire significant in a strategically important area for the firm. 

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