Top 50: New big fish gobbles up mid-tier rivals

This year the firm has edged closer to becoming a top ten player after acquiring five firms in April for a total of Pounds 60m.

The company, which has moved from nowhere to number 15 in the Top 50, has built up its turnover to Pounds 60m and is likely to become a top ten player, possibly before the end of the year – a feat that could be viewed as one of the greatest achievements by any firm in the profession in recent times.

Tenon is now within less than Pounds 20m in fee income of replacing current tenth placed firm, Horwath Clark Whitehill, after announcing the acquisition of the non-audit businesses of the Lathams Group, Scott Oswald, Jennings Johnson, the Godfrey Allan Group and the corporate recovery business of Horwath Clark Whitehill two months ago.

Further deals are expected to be completed before the end of the year, but the immediate aim for the firm will be to integrate the new businesses – while the ultimate longer-term ambition of the group is to be the largest player outside the Big Five.

Ian Buckley, Tenon chief executive, understandably says: ‘We are delighted that we now have the opportunity to bring the increasingly apparent benefits of the Tenon model to the clients and members of these firms.’

The company now reaches into Scotland and the North-West. But Yorkshire, East Anglia, Wales and Ireland remain areas the company aims to grow into.

While Tenon concentrates on growing its business, many traditional mid-tier firms play down the appeal of growing their business through acquisition.

Talks collapse
This was tested, however, with the attempted merger of mid-tier firms HLB Kidsons and Grant Thornton.

The two firms announced in February the proposed and much publicised merger between the two ‘equal’ parties was to be called off after a ‘collapse of negotiations’.

If the deal had gone through, the two would have created a firm worth Pounds 230m – despite repeated claims from the mid-tier that size is not important.

Kidsons next move was to sell off two of its practices in May, when former partner Les Bury bought the firm’s Blackburn office. At the same time partners Alan Ramsey and John Whittick took over Kidsons’ Altrincham practice.

Other significant moves within the mid-tier include the promotion of BDO Stoy Hayward to the position of largest firm outside the Big Five, nudging Grant Thornton down to number seven. The firm moved up to number six after seeing its fee income jump 16.7% to Pounds 201.5m – Pounds 11.3m higher than GT’s.

The shift follows a spat between the firms earlier this month when David McDonnell, Grant Thornton’s UK managing partner, disputed the comparison between the two.

He says: ‘I don’t think it’s a correct comparison. We’re a single business and Stoy Hayward is an associated firm.’

However BDO’s managing partner Simon Bevan dismisses the claims. He says: ‘I see relatively little difference between the way Grant Thornton run their business and the way we run ours.’

Other shifts include Baker Tilly moving into ninth spot ahead of Horwarth Clarke Whitehill, while Haysmacintyre moved to number 25 following its formation from the firms previously known as MacIntyre & Co and Hays Allan.Links

See the Accountancy Age Top 50 table

Last year’s Top 50 table

UK firms push £7bn mark

Consolidation is alive and well

Mixed success as Uncle Sam seeks to split Big Five

Huge growth in corporate finance and insolvency

New big fish gobbles up mid-tier rivals

Traditional services stay strong

The fastest growing firms

Top 50: Opinion

It’s all about perception, stupid

The arrogance of keeping Big Five results secret

Related reading

aidan-brennan kpmg