Lazard suffers as restructuring revenue drops

INVESTMENT bank Lazard revealed a five per cent slip in profits over the first three months of this year, as revenue from its restructuring business dropped.

The US lender’s restructuring business performed well during the financial downturn as ailing businesses and governments looked to sell assets and restructure liabilities. But as the economy recovers, there may be fewer opportunities in this business.

In the first-quarter, the 11 per cent uptick in merger advisory revenue was not enough to make up for the £65m drop in restructuring revenue.

Lazard said that earnings were $55m (£33m), or 43 cents a share, equal to analysts’ average forecast. A year earlier, it posted a loss of $33.5m, or 38 cents a share.

Net revenue was flat at $438.m. The first-quarter of 2010 included $112m in special charges related to layoffs and changes to its retirement policy.

On an operating basis, the company earned $73.4m, down from $77.5m in the same quarter last year. Revenue in Lazard’s restructuring business fell by about $65m to $35.6m in the first-quarter of 2011. That decline more than offset the change in merger advisory revenue, which rose $16.2m to $163.8m in the quarter.