Big Six – Businesses against big mergers

An international survey has claimed seven out of 10 business leaders are opposed to further consolidation among the Big Six. The report preceded yesterday’s European Commission announcement that it will include the proposed KPMG/Ernst & Young merger in its extended four-month review of ‘Big Four’ flirtations.

Research International, acting for Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, interviewed 623 CEOs and senior financial officers of multinational corporations and found 71% felt conflicts of interest would increase if Coopers & Lybrand/Price Waterhouse and Ernst & Young/KPMG proceed with their proposals.

Attitudes among UK executives were the most negative, with 86% opposed to consolidation, compared to 69% worldwide.

In response, KPMG chairman Colin Sharman said: ‘If you ask the marketplace if it wants more or fewer suppliers, what answer do you expect?’

Following a string of complaints by interested parties, including finance directors and regulators, EC officials indicated the review would consider the two proposals in tandem. Yesterday’s scheduled announcement followed the recent decision to delve further into the Coopers/PW marriage.

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