PracticeAccounting FirmsExclusive: Wenham Major sold to Bentley Jennison

Exclusive: Wenham Major sold to Bentley Jennison

Sale goes ahead after 'financial irregularities' cripple Wenham Major

Bentley Jennison chief Tony Stockdale

The core practice of Wenham Major, the crisis wracked Top 50 firm that
entered administration on Wednesday, has been sold to RSM Bentley Jennison for
an undisclosed sum.

The deal was signed on Friday evening following a week of talks. Jennison
takes over the central audit and accounting business as well as the tax
compliance practice.

Tony Stockdale, Jennison’s managing partner, said: ‘The core business is a
strong business. Whatever happened was a matter for the other parts of the
business.’

He said that work would begin this week to reassure clients and move the
Wenham Major staff into new premises over the next 10 days. Stockdale said the
acquisition was made using the firm’s existing reserves. The audit and
accounting practice turnsover around £2m annually.

Wenham Major was taken over by administrators from Vantis on Wednesday,
little more than a week after an announcement that ‘financial irregularities’
had been found at the Wenham Major Private Client subsidiary by joint owner
Ammar Azam. The statement also said that legal action was being planned against
John Joyce, fellow joint owner of the firm and founder of the private client
practice.

The irregularities are thought by administrators to have been uncovered six
weeks ago. It is believed a list of wealthy, some famous, clients are creditors
of the firm.

Sources close to the firm say that Private Client has effectively ceased to
trade and its seven staff are pursuing other employment opportunities.

Joyce is understood to be in hospital and unavailable for comment. Azam is
understood to be out of the country visiting a Wenham Major business in Dubai
which is not involved in the administration. He is expected back in the country
shortly.

Nick O’Reilly, the Vantis administrator, said: ‘We have been concentrating on
saving employees, looking after the interests of the creditors and minimising
disruption to the clients. Stage two will now start to work out what happened.’

Staff at the business were shocked to receive a letter terminating their
employment on Monday. However, both they and the Vantis administrators continued
work as normal.

Wenham Major caught the attention of the accounting world after growing to a
turnover of £22.5m and the number 23 spot in the Accountancy Age Top 50 within
the space of just a couple of years.

Wenham Major was founded in 1867 and was the subject of an MBO involving
Joyce and Azam in 2005. As well as London and Birmingham the firm’s website said
Wenham Major offices are sited in New York, Dubai, Shanghai, New Delhi and
Geneva.

In all six entities relating to Wenham Major entered administration with
Vantis: Wenham Major Global Capital Parnters LLP and Cornwall Street Property
LLP, Wenham Major Ltd (the core audit accounting and tax compliance practice),
Wenham Major Private Client and two non trading companies Abbey Specialised
Solutions and Wenham Major Business Services. A further two companies – listed
at the same Cornwall Street address in Birmingham – Wenham Major Wealth
Management and Wenham Major Global Trusted Advisors have not been involved in
the administration.

Vantis came in first as an adviser and was then appointed administrator
following an application by Wenham Major’s bankers HBOS.

Read more at:

Wenham
Major sifts through potential buyers

Wenham
Major calls in advisers over irregularities


Wenham Major’s troubles

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