BDO approached Robson Rhodes with merger offer

jeremy newman, BDO Internatiol

New head of BDO International Jeremy Newman

Stoy Hayward
approached Robson Rhodes with a view to a merger several years
before it announced its tie-up with Grant Thornton, the recently departed boss
of BDO has said.

In an interview to mark his departure, and move to BDO International, Jeremy
Newman revealed that he had made an approach to his then rival mid-tier firm.

‘I approached [Robson Rhodes] some years before they [joined GT], explained
to them why there were great similarities [in our strategy].’

Newman felt BDO was more successful in its implementation of that strategy,
but, he says: ‘They felt they could make a better go of it themselves.’

Newman also said that BDO was also close to securing another FTSE 100 audit
when Andersen collapsed, but plans eventually fell through.

‘One [Andersen] audit client was concerned the audit team was going to break
up,’ he revealed.

The audit team could have joined BDO wholesale, but since Andersen joined
Deloitte rather than splitting, as some had feared, the deal did not

The revelations give an insight into what went on behind the scenes during
Newman’s eight years in charge at BDO Stoy Hayward.

Newman said that BDO was a ‘disparate business’ with three partner offices
all over the place when he took over.

Newman took a firm earning £200m in 2001 to a firm earning £350m today.
But he argues that, because many parts of the firm went their own ways, the body
of staff now raking in £350m in fees, was only earning as much as £120m in 2001.

In his time at BDO, Newman earnt a reputation for winding up the Big Four
firms, who he hoped to challenge for the biggest audits.

‘The Big Four, and it’s not all of them, need to [realise] that GT [and us]
are around and they need us to be there. Collectively we can achieve much more,’
he said.

Newman said that he regretted not having been more vocal earlier on,
believing that if he had communicated his message more openly earlier, his
goals, in particular on recruiting quality staff, could have been more quickly

The row over liability caps was, he says, his prompt to become more vocal,
believing that key ministers would only listen if they saw his point made in the
headlines of newspapers.

‘There was a need to see some column inches saying this is not a good thing,’
he said.

Newman takes over at BDO International next month, and is set to reopen the
issue of the firms’ names, Accountancy Age revealed last week.

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