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Foster + Partners writes down value by £129m

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The AJ100’s leading practice Foster + Partners has written down the value of its company by £129.4million, according to new figures posted at Companies House

The ‘paper loss’ reported by Foster & Partners Group saw it slash the ‘goodwill value’ on the company’s balance sheet from £279 million in April 2012 to £150 million at 30 April 2013.

The move means Norman Foster’s global practice has reduced its market value from £369million in 2012 to £244 million as at April last year.

According to its accounts, the huge write-down relates to the value of its subsidiary Foster Group (International) Limited - bought in 2007 - and the value of Piers Heath Associates Limited, which it snapped up three years ago.

The document reads: ‘[The] Group has recognised an impairment loss on goodwill of £129.4million due to the reduction of the recoverable amount based on a value in use calculation.

‘[This] calculation was prepared as a component of management’s discussions concerning a financial restructuring has adopted revised future operational cashflow predictions and achange to the applicable discount rate.’

The figures also show that Foster + Partners Group’s revenue fell 5 per cent from £161.5million in 2012 to £153million (see below). With the write-down and other ‘exceptional items’, including a £3 million charge related to the proposed financial restructure, the company posted a £142m pre-tax loss. Before the exceptional items, expenses and tax, the group reported a gross profit of £78million.

In February the practice lost its chief executive Mouzhan Majidi, reportedly with a sizeable payoff, but is understood to be recruting as it looks to double the size of its Shanghai team and open a new office in San Francisco.

Meanwhile the company has appointed Stuart Miners and Alan Giddins, both of venture capital outfit 3i Group which has stakes in the business, as new directors.

Previous story (AJ 01.04.14)

Fosters’ turnover and profits drop after ‘difficult’ start to 2013

The AJ100’s leading practice Foster + Partners saw both turnover and profits dip following a tough start to 2013

According to the latest figures filed at Companies House for the year ending April 2013, Foster + Partners Group’s revenue fell 5 per cent from £161.5million in 2012 to £153million, while profits dropped from £46.01 million in 2012 to £37million last year.

The number of staff at the global practice has remained stable at around 1,150 - though the practice lost its chief executive Mouzhan Majidi, reportedly with a sizeable payoff, in February 2014.

However after battling ‘difficult trading conditions’ early on in the year, the company said it had a ‘much stronger second half’, which saw it win a series of high-profile contests resulting in the order book reaching record levels of £290million.

The practice confirmed the team in Shanghai was set to double and a new office in San Francisco was to open to work on the huge Transbay, mixed-use high rise development in the city.

Practice founder Norman Foster said: ‘We concluded this accounting year with a very encouraging set of financial results. We have improved our trading position and will be increasing staff numbers over the next year.

‘Looking ahead, we are in an excellent position to take full advantage of the upswing in the economy. Our order book is looking very healthy - it now stands at £270 million.’

He added: ‘The past year has been one of investment in our people and campus, strengthening our integrated team of architects, engineers and designers. Research and development remained at the core of our work, extending to a study for a 3D printed lunar habitation. The major investments we have made in our facilities include the complete refurbishment of the main studio modelshop and the creation of a state-of-the-art film unit. Our achievements as a practice are wholly dependent on the talented and dedicated individuals in our team, who have worked harder than ever to maintain and exceed the standards of excellence that the practice demands.’

Previous story (AJ 10.12.12)

Fosters’ turnover and workforce up but profits dip

Foster + Partners has added more than 100 staff to its workforce following a ‘stable year’ for the AJ100’s leading practice

According to the latest accounts for the year ending 30 April 2012, Foster + Partners Group’s turnover grew from £159.3 million in 2011 to £161.5 million while increasing the number of its employees across the globe from 1,036 in 2011 to 1,150.

However the figures, which were posted at Companies House last week, show that its profits dropped from £49.6 million in 2011 to £46.01 million this year, with the annual turnover per employee dipping from £154,000 to £141,000 in 2012 - less than that brought in during 2010 (£143,000 per employee).

Practice founder Norman Foster, understood to be the unnamed ‘highest paid director’, also suffered taking home just half that in 2011, cutting his previous income from £1.825 million to £920,000 in the 12 months to the end of April 2012.

Though workloads increased in China and Asia - from £50 million to £52.2 million - there were surprise drops in the Middle East (from £39 million in 2011 down to £32.67 million in 2012) and North America (from £29 million in 2011 to £27.4 million in 2012).

Other growth areas were in South America and Brazil where income almost doubled from £3.1 million in 2011 to £5.7 million last year. Closer to home the group also saw solid growth in the UK, with turnover up from £11.5 million to £16.4 million and its workload in Europe also edged up from £17.5 million to £19.95 million.

Foster said the company was continuing with its ‘expansionist activities’ claiming that 2012 had been a significant year which had seen some London-based staff move from ‘rental work spaces into new custom-designed studio and support spaces alongside our original Riverside building.’

Explaining how he manages to keep control over the output of the different studios, the 77-year-old compared his role to a pilot who ‘has to look at some of the instruments all of the time and all of the instruments some of the time’.

He said that the practice was looking to increase its research into ‘materials, climatology and operational studies’ and that despite the ‘increasingly digital world…the demands for physical modelling whether scaled models or full-sized mock-ups, continued to grow’.

He added: ‘Nothing can tell the story of a building as well as a physical simulation. This personal philosophy has now become an integral part of our design approach. This year marks a significant increase in the creation of full-size prototypes ahead of the start of construction.’



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