Accountants lodge merger proposal

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The Independent Online
Price Waterhouse and Coopers & Lybrand yesterday formally submitted their merger proposal to European Commission regulators following their partners' substantial vote in favour of the plan.

The two accounting and consulting firms, which announced plans to create a $13bn (pounds 7.6bn) global practice with 8,500 partners and 135,000 staff in September, expect the Brussels authorities to take several months to investigate the deal. It is understood the regulators are likely to examine the planned $18bn link-up between KPMG and Ernst & Young, two other Big Six accounting firms, at the same time.

Mike Rake, KPMG's UK chief operating officer, said yesterday that, although the two firms' partners would not be voting until the new year, the organisations' managements had the authority to commit them to a merger in principle and were already finalising their merger document.