Merger launch marred by Coopers defections

The inauguration of PricewaterhouseCoopers last week was marked byes already have. another defection, when the firm admitted that the Zambia office of Coopers & Lybrand had left to join Grant Thornton.

The move followed confirmation by Arthur Andersen that talks with Coopers practices in Brazil and Chile had resulted in a full merger, catapulting Andersens number one slot in both South American countries.

While senior executives at the newly merged firm spoke of opportunities for staff and partners, it is understood that several other Coopers offices were discussing possible mergers with rival firms this week.

KPMG, Deloitte & Touche and Andersens said they still hoped to pull out ex-Coopers practices from the merged firm, though it was not known if any UK offices were in talks. Insiders said it would be several months before partners who felt they had lost out in the merger might consider leaving.

‘You will see some fallout; it’s being called a PW takeover and that is bound to upset some Coopers people,’ said a senior manager in PwC. Coopers founded its Zambia office in 1954, building it up to 120 staff by this year with six partners and directors.

David McDonnell, Grant Thornton’s head of Europe, Middle East and Africa, said: ‘This (merger) is designed to strengthen further our international network and reinforce our presence in Africa, which we identified as an area for mass business expansion in the years ahead.’

Sujit Maitra, managing partner of Coopers in Zambia, snubbed PW after months of talks, saying the firms’ strong links with entrepreneurs in small and medium-sized businesses would be better served by Grant Thornton.

PwC was officially launched last week by chairman Nicholas Moore and chief executive James Schiro. They said the firm would ‘offer employees unparalleled career opportunities’ and clients would ‘have at their disposal a greater number of top quality advisers with the resources that only a $15bn-a-year professional services firm can provide’.

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