Legal firm Pinsent Masons today hailed a “vintage year” for its Scottish operations as it unveiled a jump in annual revenues, boosted by a number “chunky” deals.
Its new financial year has also started strongly, helped by its involvement in the £500 million sale earlier this month of oil tycoon Alasdair Locke’s petrol station operator Motor Fuel Group (MFG).
“Our growth in Scotland has been driven by some fairly chunky deals”John Cleland
Figures just published show global turnover at Pinsent Masons rose 12 per cent to £362.2m in the year to the end of April, with profits per equity partner soaring by almost a third to £538,000.
Managing partner John Cleland said the international firm, which took over Glasgow-based McGrigors in 2012, was now gearing up for a resurgence in merger and acquisition activity.
“It has been a positive year in which we have reaped the rewards of several significant investments we have made over a number of years,” Cleland said.
“The McGrigors merger, new offices in Paris, Munich and Istanbul, and significant lateral hires into Asia and the Middle East have all played their part. This has been an ‘investment-lite’ year by our own recent standards, and I would anticipate that over the next year we will make more investments than we did in the last.”
The practice acted on deals worth more than £5 billion in Scotland during the past year and has 345 fee-earning lawyers across offices in Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh. In March, it announced plans to open offices in Sydney and Melbourne, before adding a record 29 partners – including five in Scotland – to take its total partnership to more than 400.
As well as advising MFG on its change of private equity ownership from Patron Capital to Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, Pinsent Masons acted for Cairn Homes on this month’s initial public offering (IPO), which valued the Irish housebuilder at almost €430m (£308m) – a move that Edinburgh office head Ewan Alexander said reflected “a general upturn in corporate activity”.
Alexander added: “It’s been a vintage year for us in Scotland with Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh all reporting good activity levels. What we’ve found is that the Pinsent Masons/McGrigors merger has yielded even more opportunity than we anticipated.
“Our growth in Scotland has been driven by some fairly chunky deals for investment in and around the North Sea, a number of major commercial property transactions, and continued roles on some of the largest infrastructure projects in Scotland such as the new Forth Rail Replacement Crossing and Aberdeen West Peripheral Bypass.
Today’s figures are the latest to highlight growth in Scotland’s legal sector, with rival Anderson Strathern recently reporting an 8 per cent rise in first-half revenues to £10.5m, with profits per partner up 13 per cent.
Morton Fraser and Harper Macleod have also posted higher annual profits in the past week, with the latter vowing to capture a greater share of the market as it looks to maintain its independence amid a flurry of mergers and consolidation.
Tayside legal heavyweight Thorntons last week unveiled plans for its third tie-up within a year after agreeing a deal with Angus firm Watts Law. The enlarged practice, which last year brought Fife-based solicitors Murray Donald and Steel Eldridge Stewart into its fold, will now have 42 partners and more than 400 staff.