Double congratulations to Michael Cleary and David Maxwell. The senior
partners of Grant Thornton and Robson Rhodes have not only tabled the biggest
accountancy firm merger since Price Waterhouse and Coopers & Lybrand in 1998
(we’ll leave aside the post-Enron, shotgun marriage of Deloitte and Andersen),
but they also managed to keep it under wraps until this weekend. No mean feat,
given the general leakiness of most partnerships.
It’s an interesting and significant deal, though it will ruffle fewer Big
Four feathers than some commentators have suggested. The FT’s Alphaville column
remarks this morning how ‘the Big Four accounting firms face a threat to their
dominance in the blue-chip audit market’ once the deal is completed in July.
Other papers have taken this at face-value too, albeit adding a caveat or
three about the relative size of the combined firm and Ernst & Young, the
smallest of the Big Four..
But will blue-chips suddenly rush to the new Grant Thornton for audit
services? I doubt it, though that may well come in a trickle rather than a flood
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