The Nominations: A very warm welcome to the shortlists for the City A.M. awards 2013

Allister Heath

TODAY we kick off the countdown to this year’s City A.M. Awards with the first of the shortlists for an event that has rapidly established itself as a highpoint in the annual calendar.

Our awards, now in their fourth year, celebrate all of the City’s main sectors and the people that make sure London remains a global financial centre.

The event takes place at the Grange St Paul’s Hotel on 13 November; I am delighted that Lexus are our headline partner for the night, and are also directly sponsoring a special category for the most innovative company of the year.

Previous winners of our awards include Boris Johnson, who won the Personality of the Year prize on the first occasion. The evening itself was made even more memorable by Lord Coe who prepared us all for what became one of the high points of recent years in the capital, the London Olympic Games.

Johnson made it back last year, this time as guest speaker to entertain guests with a typically hilarious and uplifting speech about the City, City A.M. – and the increased number of trains on the Jubilee line.

The City A.M. team, assisted by our judging panel, has been sifting through nominations and remembering events from the past few months to assemble 14 short-lists, starting today with the categories for Law Firms and Accountancy.

For the first time this year there will also be a Corporate Social Responsibility category, judged separately by experts in the field.

Our judging panel remains as strong as ever. New recruits this year include Xavier Rolet from the London Stock Exchange Group and PwC’s Ian Powell. I will also be assisted by City A.M.’s deputy editor David Hellier, WPP’s Sir Martin Sorrell, Sir Roger Carr, chairman of Centrica, RLM Finsbury’s Roland Rudd, Alliance Trust’s Katherine Garrett-Cox, Phil Raper of Goldman Sachs, Simon Mackenzie-Smith of Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Slaughter & May’s Nigel Boardman, Alison Carnwath, chairman of Land Securities and 3i’s chief executive, Simon Borrows.

Tickets sell out quickly, so please reserve yours at – I look forward to seeing you there.

Allister Heath, Editor, City A.M.

LAW FIRM of the year
THE past year has seen a huge amount of consolidation across the legal sector, with international tie-ups bringing new firms into the spotlight and shaking up the traditional Magic Circle. Against that backdrop lawyers have also started to benefit from the upturn in the M&A and financing markets, beefing up their private equity practices and posting steady financials as the deal pipeline picks up.

After guiding commodities giant Glencore through its stock market listing in 2011, Linklaters’ Charlie Jacobs was called on by the firm again this year to help seal its $46bn merger with Xstrata. A Linklaters team also advised Vodafone on its €7.7bn bid for Kabel Deutschland, pushing the firm to the top of Mergermarket’s league table of European law firms for the first half of the year, measured by deal value.

Freshfields bucked the trend for flat revenues across much of the Magic Circle by posting an impressive 7.2 per cent rise in revenues for 2012-13, with profits also increasing by more than seven per cent. The firm has also won roles on some of the biggest M&A and capital markets deals of the year, helping Barclays with its mammoth £5.75bn rights issue and engineer Invensys on its £3.4bn takeover by France’s Schneider.

Last year’s winner has had another busy 12 months, formally merging with US firm Fulbright & Jaworski in June to create one of the world’s top 10 players by both headcount and revenues, with more than 3,800 lawyers and turnover of close to $2bn. In July it helped Commerz Real sell the iconic Lloyd’s of London building to a Chinese investor for £260m, and bumped up its client list by winning work from both Kier Group and Man Group.

The Magic Circle stalwart has weighed in on some of the most significant corporate deals of the past 12 months, helping Thomas Cook secure its £1.6bn refinancing and advising Ocado on its game-changing tie-up to help supermarket Morrison’s launch a delivery service. The firm also made the most of the resurgence in IPO activity, advising insurer esure Group on its March listing. Nigel Boardman will not participate in deciding the winner of this category.

The US firm’s transatlantic links have kept its London partners busy this year, with the corporate team advising Liberty Global on its $23.3bn acquisition of Virgin Media, and lawyers across the firm helping IntercontinentalExchange on the regulatory terms of its $8.2bn takeover of NYSE Euronext. Shearmans has also made the most of the upturn in buyout activity to bring in three private equity partners from Weil Gotshal.

IT’S been a tough year for many accountancy firms - but also a year of opportunity, as the achievements of our nominees prove. These companies have forged ahead in the face of an uncertain economic outlook, wide-ranging market reforms and some vocal political critics of their businesses. Bold mergers, banner contract wins and international expansion have been behind the nominations this year.

BDO announced one of the biggest accountancy deals of the year last December when it revealed that it was merging with competitor PKF, in a move that brought together 23 offices, 250 partners and 3,500 staff.

The company has been one of the most vocal advocates for cracking open the statutory audit market in recent years, pushing UK and European regulators for a more level playing field when it comes to blue-chip clients.

Mid-tier Grant Thornton reported a 10 per cent rise in UK revenues last year, in a sign its ambitious growth plans are bearing fruit. The firm has invested heavily in new staff, bigger offices and chasing more flagship contracts, for example by buying the financial services arm of Navigant in July in order to work more with the challenger retail banks. Grant Thornton is the number one auditor to the public sector.

Ian Powell’s outfit has enjoyed another year of rising earnings, announcing today a four per cent rise in profits per partner to £705,000. The global giant has made great strides in new areas such as cyber security and data analytics, as well as winning new audit contracts including HSBC, one of the biggest mandates in the FTSE 100. Powell will step aside from the panel when it chooses the winner in this category.

The Big Four firm heralded a “turning point” for the British economy last month as it posted an eight per cent rise in UK revenues and revealed that it had hired 3,000 people during the year. While the firm has had to contend with a tribunal over its advice during the 2005 takeover of MG Rover, Deloitte has also forged ahead with expansion in Asia and been linked to a tie-up with German consultancy group Roland Berger.

EY, as the firm is known after a rebranding over the summer, has been one of the early beneficiaries of the rise in audit tenders. The firm has picked up contracts with blue-chip companies Iberia, Land Securities and BG in recent months. The group, led by Steve Varley, has also successfully exported its expertise into new global markets.

Table of 10: £2750 + Vat.

Individual places: £295 + Vat