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LAZ > SEC Filings for LAZ > Form 10-K on 27-Feb-2014All Recent SEC Filings

Show all filings for LAZARD LTD

Form 10-K for LAZARD LTD


Annual Report

Item 7. Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

The following discussion should be read in conjunction with Lazard Ltd's consolidated financial statements and the related notes included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K (this "Form 10-K"). This discussion contains forward-looking statements that are subject to known and unknown risks and uncertainties. Actual results and the timing of events may differ significantly from those expressed or implied in such forward-looking statements due to a number of factors, including those set forth in the sections entitled "Risk Factors" and "Special Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements" and elsewhere in this Form 10-K.

Business Summary

Lazard is one of the world's preeminent financial advisory and asset management firms. We have long specialized in crafting solutions to the complex financial and strategic challenges of a diverse set of clients around the world, including corporations, governments, institutions, partnerships and individuals. Founded in 1848 in New Orleans, we currently operate from 41 cities in key business and financial centers across 26 countries throughout Europe, North America, Asia, Australia, the Middle East and Central and South America.

Our primary business purpose is to serve our clients. Our deep roots in business centers around the world form a global network of relationships with key decision-makers in corporations, governments and investing institutions. This network is both a competitive strength and a powerful resource for Lazard and our clients. As a firm that competes on the quality of our advice, we have two fundamental assets: our people and our reputation.

We operate in cyclical businesses across multiple geographies, industries and asset classes. In recent years, we have expanded our geographic reach, bolstered our industry expertise and continued to build in growth areas. Companies, government bodies and investors seek independent advice with a geographic perspective, deep understanding of capital structure, informed research and knowledge of global economic conditions. We believe that our business model as an independent advisor will continue to create opportunities for us to attract new clients and key personnel.

Our principal sources of revenue are derived from activities in the following business segments:

• Financial Advisory, which offers corporate, partnership, institutional, government, sovereign and individual clients across the globe a wide array of financial advisory services regarding mergers and acquisitions ("M&A") and other strategic matters, restructurings, capital structure, capital raising and various other financial matters, and

• Asset Management, which offers a broad range of global investment solutions and investment management services in equity and fixed income strategies, alternative investments and private equity funds to corporations, public funds, sovereign entities, endowments and foundations, labor funds, financial intermediaries and private clients.

In addition, we record selected other activities in our Corporate segment, including management of cash, investments and outstanding indebtedness, as well as certain commercial banking activities of Lazard Group's Paris-based subsidiary, Lazard Frères Banque SA ("LFB").

LFB is a registered bank regulated by the Autorité de Contrôle Prudentiel et de Résolution ("ACPR"). It is engaged primarily in commercial and private banking services for clients and funds managed by Lazard Frères Gestion SAS ("LFG") and for other clients, investment banking activities, including participation in underwritten offerings of securities in France, and asset-liability management.

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Our consolidated net revenue was derived from the following segments:

                                           Year Ended December 31,
                                    2013              2012           2011
            Financial Advisory           49 %              55 %           54 %
            Asset Management             52                47             49
            Corporate                    (1 )              (2 )           (3 )

            Total                       100 %             100 %          100 %

We also invest our own capital from time to time, generally alongside capital of qualified institutional and individual investors in alternative investments or private equity investments, and, since 2005, we have engaged in a number of alternative investments and private equity activities, including investments through (i) the Edgewater Funds ("Edgewater"), our Chicago-based private equity firm (see Note 12 of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements), (ii) Lazard Australia Corporate Opportunities Fund 2 ("COF2"), a Lazard-managed Australian fund targeting Australasian mid-market investments, (iii) a mezzanine fund, which invests in mezzanine debt of a diversified selection of small-to mid-cap European companies and (iv) a fund targeting significant noncontrolling-stake investments in established private companies. We also make investments to seed our Asset Management strategies. We may explore and discuss opportunities to expand the scope of our alternative investment and private equity activities in Europe, the U.S. and elsewhere. These opportunities could include internal growth of new funds and direct investments by us, partnerships or strategic relationships, investments with third parties or acquisitions of existing funds or management companies. Also, consistent with any obligations to LFCM Holdings LLC ("LFCM Holdings"), we may explore capital markets opportunities.

Business Environment and Outlook

Economic and global financial market conditions can materially affect our financial performance. As described above, our principal sources of revenue are derived from activities in our Financial Advisory and Asset Management business segments. As our Financial Advisory revenues are primarily dependent on the successful completion of merger, acquisition, restructuring, capital raising or similar transactions, and our Asset Management revenues are primarily driven by the levels of assets under management ("AUM"), weak economic and global financial market conditions can result in a challenging business environment for M&A and capital-raising activity as well as our Asset Management business, but may provide opportunities for our restructuring business.

Equity market indices for developed markets at December 31, 2013 increased when compared to such indices at December 31, 2012, while equity market indices for emerging markets decreased as compared to December 31, 2012. On an industry-wide basis, during 2013, the number of completed and announced M&A transactions decreased, compared to the prior year. Global restructuring activity, as measured by the number of corporate defaults, was slightly lower in 2013 as compared to the prior year, and the aggregate value of debt defaults remained low, consistent with the last several years.

Entering 2014, interest rates remain low and corporate cash balances remain high. Macroeconomic conditions appear to be improving in the developed countries, particularly in North America, CEO and board confidence appears to be returning and, as such, companies based in these regions may be better positioned to make acquisitions for future growth and investors may be increasingly interested in deploying capital for investment purposes. In our Asset Management business, we entered 2014 with a record level of assets under management. Although market volatility may continue, we believe the long term trends appear positive.

We intend to leverage our existing infrastructure to capitalize on any global macroeconomic recovery, any upturn in the M&A cycle, and any momentum in the global equity markets. We expect to generate revenue growth by remaining adequately staffed to capitalize on any macroeconomic recovery and deploying our intellectual capital to generate new revenue streams. The cost saving initiatives that we began in 2012 are effectively complete, and

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through 2013, more than two-thirds of these savings were realized, with the full impact of all the savings expected to be reflected in our 2014 results. See "Cost Saving Initiatives" below and Note 16 of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.

Our outlook with respect to our Financial Advisory and Asset Management businesses is described below.

• Financial Advisory - In the near- to mid-term, we expect that the U.S. macroeconomic environment will likely be the strongest of the developed economies. Certain legal decisions in the U.S. reinforce the importance of independent advice, and the global scale and breadth of our Financial Advisory business allows us to advise on large, complex cross-border transactions across a variety of industries. We continue to develop our range of advisory capabilities, in particular in Europe, with our Sovereign Advisory, Restructuring and Capital Advisory businesses. In addition, we believe our businesses throughout the emerging markets, Japan and Australia position us for growth in these markets, while enhancing our relationships with, and the services that we can provide to, clients in developed economies. We have also established the Lazard Africa initiative, to leverage our sovereign and corporate expertise in this rapidly growing region, for our clients in both developed and developing countries.

• Asset Management - Generally, we have seen increased investor demand across regions and investment platforms. In the short to intermediate term, we expect most of our growth will come from defined benefit and defined contribution plans in the developed economies because of their sheer scope and size. Over the longer term, we expect an increasing share of our AUM to come from the developing economies in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, as their retirement systems evolve and individual wealth is increasingly deployed in the financial markets. Our global footprint is already well established in the developed economies and we expect our business in the developing economies will continue to expand. Given our globally diversified platform and our ability to provide investment solutions for a global mix of clients, we believe we are positioned to benefit from growth that may occur in the asset management industry. We recently extended the global footprint of our Asset Management business by opening new offices in Zurich and Singapore. We also announced plans to open an office in Dubai. We are continually developing and seeding new investment strategies that extend our existing platforms. Recent examples of growth initiatives include the following investment strategies: Emerging Markets Debt, Core Emerging Markets Equity, Emerging Markets Small Cap Equity, Real Estate, Managed Volatility Strategies and Asian Equities.

We operate in a very competitive and rapidly changing environment. New risks and uncertainties emerge continuously, and it is not possible for our management to predict all risks and uncertainties, nor can we assess the impact of all potentially applicable factors on our business or the extent to which any factor, or combination of factors, may cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statements. See Item 1A, "Risk Factors" in this Form 10-K. Furthermore, net income and revenue in any period may not be indicative of full-year results or the results of any other period and may vary significantly from year to year and quarter to quarter.

Overall, we continue to focus on the development of our business, including the generation of stable revenue and earnings growth and stockholder returns, the prudent management of our costs and expenses, the efficient use of our assets and the return of capital to our stockholders.

Certain data with respect to our Financial Advisory and Asset Management businesses is included below.

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Financial Advisory

As reflected in the following table, which sets forth global M&A industry statistics, the value of all completed and announced M&A transactions increased in 2013 compared to 2012, while the number of such transactions decreased as compared to 2012. With respect to the value of announced transactions, the 2013 increase was partially driven by one large transaction. Both the value and number of announced transactions involving deal values greater than $500 million increased in 2013 as compared to 2012.

                                                  Year Ended December 31,
                                          2013          2012        Incr /  (Decr)
                                                      ($ in billions)
     Completed M&A Transactions:
     All deals:
     Value                              $   2,601     $  2,549                    2 %
     Number                                35,945       43,417                  (17 )%
     Deals Greater than $500 million:
     Value                                  1,846        1,704                    8 %
     Number                                   943          954                   (1 )%
     Announced M&A Transactions:
     All deals:
     Value                              $   2,911     $  2,679                    9 %
     Number                                37,367       43,678                  (14 )%
     Deals Greater than $500 million:
     Value                                  2,065        1,828                   13 %
     Number                                 1,062        1,012                    5 %

Source: Dealogic as of January 6, 2014.

Global restructuring activity during 2013, as measured by the number of corporate defaults, decreased as compared to 2012, and the aggregate value of debt defaults remained low, consistent with the last several years. The number of defaulting issuers decreased slightly to 62 in 2013, according to Moody's Investors Service, Inc., as compared to 63 in 2012. In the U.S., the number of corporate defaults decreased 30% in 2013 as compared to 2012, while the value of such defaults decreased 17% during the same period.

Asset Management

The percentage change in major equity market indices at December 31, 2013, as
compared to such indices at December 31, 2012, and at December 31, 2012, as
compared to such indices at December 31, 2011, is shown in the table below.

                                            Percentage Changes
                                               December 31,
                                  2013 vs. 2012             2012 vs. 2011
          MSCI World Index                    24 %                      13 %
          Euro Stoxx                          18 %                      14 %
          MSCI Emerging Market                (5 )%                     15 %
          S&P 500                             30 %                      13 %

The fees that we receive for providing investment management and advisory services are primarily driven by the level of AUM and the nature of the AUM product mix. Accordingly, market movements, foreign currency volatility and changes in our AUM product mix will impact the level of revenues we receive from our Asset Management business when comparing periodic results. A substantial portion of our AUM is invested in equities.

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Movements in AUM during the period generally reflect the changes in equity market indices. Our AUM at December 31, 2013 increased 12% versus AUM at December 31, 2012, primarily due to market appreciation. Average AUM for 2013 also increased 12% as compared to average AUM in 2012.

Cost Saving Initiatives

In October 2012, we announced cost saving initiatives which, at that time, were expected to result in approximately $125 million in annual savings from our compensation and non-compensation cost base. We currently expect total annual savings related to the cost saving initiatives to be approximately $160 million, partially offset by investment in our business.

Approximately $120 million of the expected annual savings relate to compensation expense associated with our headcount, and approximately $40 million to non-compensation expense. Through 2013, more than two-thirds of these savings were realized, with the full impact of all the savings expected to be reflected in our 2014 results.

Expenses associated with implementation of the cost saving initiatives were completed in the second quarter of 2013 and were reflected in our financial results. These implementation expenses were approximately: $38 million in the second quarter of 2013; $26 million in the first quarter of 2013; and $103 million in the fourth quarter of 2012, for a total of approximately $167 million.

The cost saving initiatives are intended to improve our profitability with minimal impact on revenue growth. The initiatives include: streamlining our corporate structure and consolidating support functions; realigning our investments into areas with potential for the greatest long-term return; the settlement of certain contractual obligations; reducing occupancy costs; and creating greater flexibility to retain and attract the best people and invest in new growth areas.

See Note 16 of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.

Financial Statement Overview

Net Revenue

The majority of Lazard's Financial Advisory net revenue historically has been earned from the successful completion of M&A transactions, strategic advisory matters, restructuring and capital structure advisory services, capital raising and similar transactions. The main drivers of Financial Advisory net revenue are overall M&A activity, the level of corporate debt defaults and the environment for capital raising activities, particularly in the industries and geographic markets in which Lazard focuses. In some client engagements, often those involving financially distressed companies, revenue is earned in the form of retainers and similar fees that are contractually agreed upon with each client for each assignment and are not necessarily linked to the completion of a transaction. In addition, Lazard also earns fees from providing strategic advice to clients, with such fees not being dependent on a specific transaction, and may also earn fees in connection with public and private securities offerings and for referring opportunities to LFCM Holdings for underwriting, distribution and placement of securities. The referral fees received from LFCM Holdings are generally one-half of the revenue recorded by LFCM Holdings in respect of such activities. Significant fluctuations in Financial Advisory net revenue can occur over the course of any given year, because a significant portion of such net revenue is earned upon the successful completion of a transaction, restructuring or capital raising activity, the timing of which is uncertain and is not subject to Lazard's control.

Lazard's Asset Management segment principally includes Lazard Asset Management LLC (together with its subsidiaries, "LAM"), LFG and Edgewater. Asset Management net revenue is derived from fees for investment management and advisory services provided to clients. As noted above, the main driver of Asset Management net revenue is the level and product mix of AUM, which is generally influenced by the performance of the global equity

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markets and, to a lesser extent, fixed income markets as well as Lazard's investment performance, which impacts its ability to successfully attract and retain assets. As a result, fluctuations (including timing thereof) in financial markets and client asset inflows and outflows have a direct effect on Asset Management net revenue and operating income. Asset Management fees are generally based on the level of AUM measured daily, monthly or quarterly, and an increase or reduction in AUM, due to market price fluctuations, currency fluctuations, changes in product mix, or net client asset flows will result in a corresponding increase or decrease in management fees. The majority of our investment advisory contracts are generally terminable at any time or on notice of 30 days or less. Institutional and individual clients, and firms with which we have strategic alliances, can terminate their relationship with us, reduce the aggregate amount of AUM or shift their funds to other types of accounts with different rate structures for a number of reasons, including investment performance, changes in prevailing interest rates and financial market performance. In addition, as Lazard's AUM includes significant amounts of assets that are denominated in currencies other than U.S. Dollars, changes in the value of the U.S. Dollar relative to foreign currencies will impact the value of Lazard's AUM. Fees vary with the type of assets managed and the vehicle in which they are managed, with higher fees earned on equity assets and alternative investment funds, such as hedge funds and private equity funds, and lower fees earned on fixed income and cash management products.

The Company earns performance-based incentive fees on various investment products, including traditional products and alternative investment funds, such as hedge funds and private equity funds.

For hedge funds, incentive fees are calculated based on a specified percentage of a fund's net appreciation, in some cases in excess of established benchmarks or thresholds. The Company records incentive fees on traditional products and hedge funds at the end of the relevant performance measurement period, when potential uncertainties regarding the ultimate realizable amounts have been determined. The incentive fee measurement period is generally an annual period (unless an account terminates during the year). The incentive fees received at the end of the measurement period are not subject to reversal or payback. Incentive fees on hedge funds are often subject to loss carryforward provisions in which losses incurred by the hedge funds in any year are applied against certain gains realized by the hedge funds in future periods before any incentive fees can be earned.

For private equity funds, incentive fees may be earned in the form of a "carried interest" if profits arising from realized investments exceed a specified threshold. Typically, such carried interest is ultimately calculated on a whole-fund basis and, therefore, clawback of carried interest during the life of the fund can occur. As a result, incentive fees earned on our private equity funds are not recognized until potential uncertainties regarding the ultimate realizable amounts have been determined, including any potential for clawback.

Corporate segment net revenue consists primarily of investment gains and losses on the Company's "seed investments" related to our Asset Management business, principal investments in private equity funds and "equity method" investments, net of hedging activities, as well as gains and losses on investments held in connection with Lazard Fund Interests and on the extinguishment of debt (to the extent applicable), interest income and interest expense. Corporate net revenue also can fluctuate due to changes in the fair value of investments classified as "trading", as well as due to changes in interest and currency exchange rates and in the levels of cash, investments and indebtedness.

Although Corporate segment net revenue during 2013 represented (1)% of Lazard's net revenue, total assets in the Corporate segment represented 56% of Lazard's consolidated total assets as of December 31, 2013, which are attributable to investments in government bonds and money market funds, fixed income funds, alternative investment funds and other securities, private equity investments, cash and assets associated with LFB.

Operating Expenses

The majority of Lazard's operating expenses relate to compensation and benefits for managing directors and employees. Our compensation and benefits expense includes (i) salaries and benefits, (ii) amortization of the relevant portion of previously granted deferred incentive compensation awards, including (a) share-based

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incentive compensation under the Lazard Ltd 2005 Equity Incentive Plan (the "2005 Plan") and the Lazard Ltd 2008 Incentive Compensation Plan (the "2008 Plan") and (b) Lazard Fund Interests awards and other similar deferred compensation arrangements (see Note 14 of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements), (iii) a provision for discretionary or guaranteed cash bonuses and profit pools and (iv) when applicable, severance payments. Compensation expense in any given period is dependent on many factors, including general economic and market conditions, our actual and forecasted operating and financial performance, staffing levels, competitive pay conditions and the nature of revenues earned, as well as the mix between current and deferred compensation.

We believe that "awarded compensation and benefits expense" and the ratio of "awarded compensation and benefits expense" to "operating revenue," both non-U.S. GAAP measures, are the most appropriate measures to assess the actual annual cost of compensation and provide the most meaningful basis for comparison of compensation and benefits expense between present, historical and future years. "Awarded compensation and benefits expense" for a given year is calculated using "adjusted compensation and benefits expense," also a non-U.S. GAAP measure, as modified by the following items:

• We deduct amortization expense recorded for U.S. GAAP purposes in each fiscal year associated with the vesting of deferred incentive compensation awards,

• We add (i) the grant date fair value of the deferred incentive compensation awards granted applicable to the relevant year-end compensation process (i.e. the grant date fair value of deferred incentive awards granted in 2014, 2013 and 2012 related to the 2013, 2012 and 2011 year-end compensation processes, respectively) and (ii) investments in people (i.e."sign-on" bonuses) and other special deferred incentive awards granted throughout the applicable year, with such amounts in (i) and (ii) reduced by an estimate of future forfeitures of such awards, and

• We adjust for year-end foreign exchange fluctuations.

For interim periods we use "adjusted compensation and benefits expense" and the ratio of "adjusted compensation and benefits expense" to "operating revenue," both non-U.S. GAAP measures, for comparison of compensation and benefits expense between periods. For the calculations with respect to "adjusted compensation and benefits expense" and "awarded compensation and benefits expense" and related ratios to "operating revenue," see the table under "Consolidated Results of Operations" below.

Compensation and benefits expense is the largest component of our operating expenses. Our goal is for awarded compensation and benefits expense to rise at a slower rate than operating revenue growth, and if operating revenue declines, awarded compensation and benefits expense should also decline. In addition, we seek to maintain discipline with respect to the rate at which we award deferred . . .

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