Consolidated firm set for £70m debut.
The UK’s first accountancy consolidator will be born next week when London-based stockbroker Raphael Zorn Hemsley confirms it has hit its £50m capital funding target, writes Alex Miller. The broker is expected to unveil the new venture publicly early next week, with some sources predicting it has acquired as much as £60-70m in backing. Stock market rules prevented director John Harrison from disclosing details, but he said: ‘Our fundraising is going exceedingly well and we have been involved in a lot of discussion with mid-tier firms which have gone well. We have broken off talks to raise the capital and when we have completed the process we will return to discussions. We will be making an announcement in the near future.’ The broker is thought to have attracted backing both from the open market as well as several large shareholders. RZH has been negotiating with 30 mid-tier practices with the aim of forming a business services company with billings of over £100m shortly after launch. Fee income of that level would propel the new firm into eighth place in the Accountancy Age Top 50 ahead of Pannell Kerr Forster. The fund will be used to buy existing practices for either cash or shares, subject to regulatory approval by the English ICA. The firms are likely to retain their own names. However, the consolidation process could eventually include firms from outside the profession. Although the name of the new company has yet to be revealed, it is thought the chief executive will be Ian Buckley, the former managing partner of Smith & Williamson. Nottinghamshire-based Jobtel, which has also emerged as a consolidator and which has met 20 mid-tier firms, is expected to announce details of its own consolidation plans before the end of the month. It has predicted it will attract £160m in fee income within five years, putting the new player just behind the Big Five according to the 1999 Accountancy Age Top 50.