KPMG targets top corporates

KPMG is to double the size of its corporate finance team by taking on larger merger and acquisition transactions over the next two years – in a direct challenge to PricewaterhouseCoopers’ supremacy in advising on big-value deals.

KPMG advised on 423 deals last year, according to Securities Data’s global M&A league table for 1998.

It led a field featuring Wall Street heavyweights like major investment banks Morgan Stanley (343 deals) and Goldman Sachs (312 deals).

PwC came second in the list, with fewer deals (415), but with the transactions worth more by volume ($19m against KPMG’s $11m).

KPMG corporate finance partner John Griffith-Jones said: ‘We are heading up-market towards the larger deals, but have no intention of leaving anything behind. I would argue that we are number one in the UK for middle-market corporate finance.’

But PwC M&A partner Neil Sutton pointed to the fact that, in value terms, PwC is in the top five for deals worth under #500m. In that table, KPMG would be in 18th place.

He added that the firm completed 41 transactions between Europe and the US last year – more than any other corporate finance player.

‘We have brought in people from sectors such as financial services to bolster our teams, and there will be more high-profile recruitment drives going forward,’ said Sutton.

The biggest incentive for KPMG to build a base among smaller firms has been the move away from middle-market deals by the more traditional investment banks, leaving the way clear.

Griffith-Jones said the challenge now is to pursue and persuade its worldwide clients to hand over all their businesses.

‘We are growing our business at a rapid pace, but incrementally. We will not be making the mistakes of the banks who left behind the middle market without proper planning,’ he said.

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