PwC and Grant Thornton admit merger talks

PricewaterhouseCoopers and Grant Thornton’s US operations have admitted that they held secret merger negotiations over the summer that collapsed before a deal was signed.

The deal, which would have created a multi-billion dollar global super-firm, resulted from talks between the firms that initially centred on the possibility of joint purchasing and outsourcing arrangements.

But PwC head of global corporate affairs David Nestor said the talks quickly escalated into discussions of marriage that fell apart earlier this month.

‘In the end both parties agreed not to go ahead with any options at the moment because professional partnerships are complex structures,’ he said.

Grant Thornton confirmed news of the potential deal and said it fell through due to financial issues and a lack of synergy between the two firms.

However, both firms have maintained that they are still in the market for new business arrangements that make strategic sense – including mergers.

A Grant Thornton spokesman said: ‘We are still looking for new opportunities, centred around providing our clients with services that they are requesting and helping owners and senior management of middle-market, entrepreneurial companies that create and preserve wealth.’

Rapid consolidation of middle-tier firms in the US is putting pressure on the Big Five to maintain their lead and could trigger further mergers this year.

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