Herbert Smith Freehills calls off planned Guinea office launch

Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) has decided not to go ahead with its planned launch in Guinea, a move which had been expected to take place early this year.

The firm announced the planned launch in the capital of Conakry in October last year, with the decision attributed to increasing interest in the West African jurisdiction from its energy and infrastructure clients.

The proposed office was expected to be headed up by projects partner Bertrand Montembault, alongside senior associate Salimatou Diallo, and would have mainly focused on corporate and projects work.

In a statement, the firm said: “We’ve decided not to go forward with opening in Guinea. We’re confident we’ll be able to continue to service client needs as they relate to Francophone Africa, including Guinea, on the same basis as we do at the moment.”

The firm currently carries out the majority of its Africa work from Paris.

Legacy Herbert Smith had pushed back a decision over a launch in Guinea earlier in 2012 before making a final call to open there in October shortly after its merger with Australia’s Freehills.

The firm said its Africa strategy remains under review and while the long-term plan is to open up in Africa, an exact location is undecided.

The news comes after HSF reported post-merger revenues of £471.2m for the seven months from October 2012 to April this year. The seven-month figure extrapolated over 12 months equates to a 12-month total of just over £800m, meaning the revenues are broadly flat on the combined total of legacy Herbert Smith’s 2011-12 turnover and Australia’s Freehills’ 2011 income.

Meanwhile, profits per equity partner (PEP) have fallen by around £100,000, down from £840,000 to £744,000 – a drop of 11%. The firm attributed the fall in PEP to the Anglo-Australian merger.