Linklaters Revenue Falls 8.8% as Merger Advisory Work for Law Firms Drops

Linklaters LLP, one of the U.K.’s highest-grossing law firms, said revenue fell 8.8 percent to 1.18 billion pounds ($1.8 billion) as the global mergers and acquisitions market stalled.

Linklaters ranked first among law firms advising principals in global merger and acquisition deals in 2009, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The volume of deals fell 38 percent in 2009 and has remained at a low level this year.

“M&A is about 40 percent of our business,” the firm’s managing partner Simon Davies said. “Our profitability has been quite resilient taking that into account.”

Profit per equity partner fell 6.8 percent to 1.2 million pounds, and overall profit was down 1.2 percent for the year that ended April 30, the London-based firm said today in a statement. The lower figure means Linklaters may no longer be the largest U.K.-based law firm by revenue. Competing firms Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP and Clifford Chance LLP haven’t reported their financial results yet this year.

The firm relied on restructuring and financial regulation work to help offset the decline in deals, and its capital markets team has been busy advising on high-yield bond issuances, he said.

“Over the next three to five years there will be a lot of restructuring work with this new barrage of financial regulation,” he said. “That will be a buoyant area, and it’s important that we’re alongside our clients in coping with that new legislation.”

Linklaters is advising Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc and Lloyds Banking Group Plc in relation to the British government’s asset-protection program. The firm also represents Lehman Brothers International Europe, which is liquidating in the U.K.

Allen & Overy, which ranked fourth last year in revenue among U.K. firms, said last week its revenue fell 4 percent to 1.05 billion pounds and partner profits were up 10 percent.

To contact the reporter for this story: Lindsay Fortado in London at lfortado@bloomberg.net.

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