Merger mania – PKF and Robsons look elsewhere

Pannell Kerr Forster said this week it remained open to merger opportunities despite the last-minute collapse of its proposed union with smaller mid-tier rival Robson Rhodes.

Plans to merge the two firms to form Pannell Robson – with a turnover in excess of #120m and staff of 2,100 – were called off last Friday, just one day before Robson partners were due to vote on the deal.

Both firms blamed disagreements over international structure and strategy. Robson Rhodes’ multinational focus was seen as clashing with Pannell Kerr Forster’s concentration on the middle market.

PKF chairman John Wosner said: ‘We are not actively looking for a merger, but if the right opportunity comes along we will look at it.’

But Robson Rhodes managing partner Chris Connor said: ‘We are going for closer integration with European firms.’ The firm formed a joint venture in February with several European firms for this purpose.

Both firms said the recent Chinese Walls verdict in a case brought by a disaffected Robson Rhodes client, imposing strict conditions on the merger, had not contributed to their decision to call it off.

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