Ashurst grows revenue by 10% to £879m but PEP edges down

High inflation and rising costs sees PEP dip 0.4% from 2022’s record high of £1.175m
Photograph of Ashurst managing partner Paul Jenkins outside the firm's offices

Ashurst’s global CEO Paul Jenkins

Ashurst grew revenue by 10% in FY23 to £879m, though the pressures of high inflation and rising costs meant that profit per equity partner (PEP) at the Anglo Australian firm fell marginally.

PEP dropped by 0.4% from 2022’s record high of £1.175m to £1.170m, though the firm said the figure had risen by 94% over the past seven years. 

The 10% rise in turnover in FY23 also marked a slight cooling from last year’s 12% growth, but nonetheless sees Ashurst keep pace with other UK-based international firms like HFW and Osborne Clarke that have already published their results and grew turnover by 13% and 9% respectively. 

Ashurst’s global CEO, Paul Jenkins, told Financial Review that PEP growth had been suppressed by a combination of high inflation, wage pressures and rising costs but was upbeat about the results, saying the firm had “performed strongly”. 

“Our FY23 results mark our seventh consecutive year of revenue growth,” Jenkins said. “We have grown significantly in the past seven years, with revenue growing 8% on average each year over that period, and growth accelerating in the past three years.”

The firm said it had performed strongly in all of its regions, particularly in Continental Europe and the Middle East, both of which delivered double digit growth and together with the UK account for more than half of the firm’s total revenue. 

All of Ashurst’s global divisions recorded year-on-year growth, with the firm saying it had seen a notable uptick in the projects and energy transition, real estate and disputes, investigations and advisory divisions as well as the digital economy transactions, financial regulatory and restructuring practices. 

Meantime, despite a more subdued global M&A market, an increase in inbound M&A from China into Southeast Asia saw Ashurst’s corporate practice achieve significant growth in Singapore, China and Indonesia. Last August the firm also expanded in Singapore with a four person M&A team from local heavyweight Allen & Gledhill. 

In terms of sector, Ashurst said that more than 85% of its revenue is now generated from its priority sectors of banks and private capital, real estate, infrastructure, energy and resources and the digital economy. 

Over the past year the firm has worked with a number of major banking clients, including Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and ANZ, the latter of which it advised on its proposed A$4.9bn acquisition of Suncorp Bank in Australia. 

The firm’s US projects team, which is ranked in Band 1 by Chambers for infrastructure, advised Austin Transport Partnership on the development of Austin’s first light rail line.

One area where Jenkins said the firm has been able to cut costs is office space, with the firm achieving its 2023 target to improve the efficiency of space globally by 20% compared to 2019 levels through a combination of investment and reconfiguration. 

The firm also pointed to the growth of its NewLaw division – which saw turnover increase by more than 25% – and the expansion of its risk advisory business into the UK with a four-partner team. The risk consulting practice has become one of the fastest-growing parts of the firm since its launch in 2020, increasing revenue by 60% in the past year, the firm said. 

Strategic highlights over the past year include the launch of a joint venture with South Korean firm HwaHyun, a move that saw Ashurst become the first international law firm to practise local law in South Korea since the legal market opened in 2011. 

The firm also internally promoted a record 25 partners and added 28 more through lateral hires, including four energy and infrastructure lawyers who joined from Shearman & Sterling in the UK and Asia. 

Jenkins said Ashurst had met all the goals it set out in its four-year strategy in 2019, adding: “We’ve started the financial year well with all divisions and regions reporting a good pipeline of work. I am confident that we will continue to build on our successes and now achieve the goals we have set for the next four years.”

Email your news and story ideas to: [email protected]