The forecast appeared to come true this morning with news that E&Y had taken over Andersen’s operations in Australia.
After successfully securing the Russia and New Zealand offices last week, E&Y has signalled its interest in picking off other Andersen practices, including the UK partnership.
Bill Kimsey, global chief executive of E&Y, told Accountancy Age: ‘We’re having other conversations at the moment. We have expressed an interest in talks with Andersen practices all around the world outside the US.’
Though Kimsey was unwilling to detail the status of any of the current talks, the news will cast serious doubt over KPMG’s ability to merge with all of Andersen’s non-US practices.
PricewaterhouseCoopers last week secured deals with Andersen’s Hong Kong and China practices causing a further dent to KPMG’s plans.
A spokeswoman for KPMG said: ‘Constructive talks are continuing on a number of fronts.’ But any concrete deals had yet to be announced at the time of press.
Kimsey also said that E&Y could strike a deal for Andersen’s Australia operations as talks with KPMG floundered on Monday because of litigation surrounding insurer HIH where the merger partners face conflicts of interest.
Accepting that mergers were not ‘simple’, Kimsey said the addition of Andersen’s Russia and New Zealand practices would fit well into E&Y.
He added that he did not expect any redundancies to result directly from the takeovers.
The breakaways also threaten to scupper a separate survival plan for Andersen put forward by Paul Volcker last week.
Meanwhile, KPMG is understood to be carrying out its own research into the involvement of Andersenås London offices in shredding Enron-related documents.
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