Ashurst pushes PEP past pre-financial crisis levels as revenue climbs 12% to £798m

Anglo Australian firm celebrates sixth year of strong growth with PEP jumping to 1,175k

Ashurst is celebrating a record financial year after recording its highest profits-per-partner (PEP) since before the global financial crisis.

A 12% increase in revenue at the Anglo Australian firm to £798m pushed PEP up by 13% to 1,175k, significantly above the figure of £1,040k the firm achieved in 2008 before PEP plummeted the following year to £567k.

The results come off the back of another strong year in 2021 when revenue was up by 10% and PEP achieved another major landmark by breaking back through the £1m ceiling thanks to a 15% jump just shy of the 2008 figure.

Global CEO Paul Jenkins, who was elected to serve a third term in February, said: "We have now seen revenue grow over 8% on average each year over the last six years. I'd like to highlight in particular the commitment of our people in delivering successful outcomes for our clients through what has been another challenging year in many of our offices."

He added: “A sharp focus on our strategy, priorities and goals in key areas of existing and emerging client demand has been core to delivering our FY22 results and ensuring consistent and sustainable growth.”

The firm highlighted the UK, Australia and Continental Europe as regions recording strong performances and said more than 85% of its work is now carried out in its five key industry sectors: banks and private capital; real estate; infrastructure; energy and resources; and the digital economy.

Those sectors were targeted as part of a four-year strategy that concludes next year and the firm is now considering what areas to prioritise in the following four-year period. 

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Like its peers, Ashurst has been buoyed by record deal markets. Highlight deals include advising Morrisons on its £7.3bn takeover by US private equity firm Clayton Dubilier & Rice and the supermarket chain’s subsequent agreement to acquire the business of McColl's out of insolvency by way of a pre-pack administration.

The strength of its corporate practice in Australia – a legacy of its 2013 merger with Australia’s Blake Dawson – will also have been a particular asset, given the super hot deal market there. The firm advised on Washington H. Soul Pattinson’s acquisition of Milton Corporation for A$4.61bn.

However, Jenkins sounded a note of caution, given the current economic headwinds. “We are now seeing a new geopolitical and economic environment emerge – with rising inflation and interest rates, supply chain challenges and an increasing focus on energy transition," he said. “Ashurst has seen heightened activity in areas such as regulatory advice, corporate transactions, finance, disputes and digital transformation.”

He also highlighted the performance of the firm’s new law arm Ashurst Advance and its Australian legal consulting business, with revenue growing by more than 75% and 190% respectively.

Strategic moves include the opening of a small Texas office, announced last month, to broaden the firm’s focus on projects work and an alliance with design, engineering and advisory services company Aurecon to offer climate change advice in Australia.

The firm also made 29 lateral hires during the reporting period and promoted a record 25 partners.

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