Travers Smith underlines resilience as revenue inches up against flat PEP

Results follow run of partner losses at start of the year to top tier rivals

Travers Smith has underlined its “resilience” after maintaining its profit per equity partner (PEP) at £1.1m against a 1% increase in turnover to £197.5m.

The provisional results for the year ended 30 June follow a difficult period for the leading private equity-focused UK independent after it suffered a run of partner losses in the first quarter of 2023 to rival firms including Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, Simpson Thacher, Dechert and Linklaters.

Unlike a number of leading UK firms, which have recorded falls in profits despite increasing revenue, the firm has managed to maintain its PEP, although it was an outlier in 2022 when it posted a 9% fall in contrast to most of its rivals, which recorded large increases. 

“This year has not been without its challenges, and I am proud of the way that our firm and people have responded,” said acting senior partner Siân Keall, who took up the role in January when senior partner Kathleen Russ began a period of leave for exceptional family reasons before subsequently stepping down mid-term in June to become a consultant.

While revenue at the leading independent has risen by 34% since 2018, growth has slowed over the last two years, increasing by 6.4% from the £185.7m posted in 2021.

PEP, meanwhile, remains above the £1m achieved in June 2020 in the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic but is down from the figure of £1.22m posted in 2021, and the record £1.25m notched up in 2019.

Managing partner Edmund Reed added: “In a year of market disruption our results reflect the resilience that underpins our business. We continue to focus firmly on our clients who come to us for exceptional quality, depth and breadth of relationships and a collaborative approach that is deeply valued.”

Partners who resigned from the firm in the first quarter of 2023 included former private equity and financial sponsors group head Ian Shawyer, who joined Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton in January, funds duo Ed Ford and Sacha Gofton-Salmond, who joined Simpson Thacher & Bartlett the following month, funds partner Sam Kay, who joined Dechert in March, when private equity partner Genna Marten moved across to Linklaters

The pedigree of the firms tapping Travers Smith for partners underlines the quality of its private equity and funds teams, and the depth of its benches will have allowed it to recognise new talent from within the firm, including Emily Clark, who was appointed to the new role of head of asset management.

Meanwhile, ongoing investment by the firm in its disputes and investigations and technology teams also appears to be paying dividends. 

Highlight instructions include advising listed healthcare software developer EMIS Group in relation to the Competition and Markets Authority’s investigation into its proposed £1.24bn acquisition by US multinational UnitedHealth Group. 

And today (28 July), the firm has been appointed by NatWest to conduct an independent review into its handling of the closing of Brexiteer Nigel Farage’s Coutts account, which sparked the resignations of group CEO Alison Rose and Coutts chief executive Peter Flavel. 

Its technology team, meanwhile, is advising retail payments operator Pay.UK on a proposed overhaul of its payment system, which handles £4.5bn of payments per day.

A new senior partner will be chosen to replace Russ in the autumn.

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