Binder offices defect to Stoy

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STOY HAYWARD, the accountancy firm, has snapped up 13 offices of its rival Binder Hamlyn, whose partners are unhappy about the proposed takeover of the firm by Arthur Andersen.

The dissident offices, mainly in Scotland and East Anglia, have pounds 20m of fee income - about a quarter of Binder's total - 53 partners and 430 staff. That will boost Stoy from 10th to eighth place in the league table of accountants with pounds 95m of fee income, 34 offices and 255 partners.

It had been expected that a number of Binder's offices would refuse to sanction a takeover by Arthur Andersen. Ian Valentine, managing partner in Scotland, made his opposition clear as soon as details of the talks were revealed.

But Arthur Andersen has said it is mainly interested in the London and Leeds offices, the only two that have large public company clients. Companies audited by the London office include British Land, Nurdin & Peacock and United Newspapers, while Leeds has Allied Colloids and FKI.

Arthur Andersen said yesterday it was still talking to partners in both these offices, as well as Manchester and Newcastle, but could give no indication when a deal would be agreed. Andersen intends to retain the Binders name and will use it to boost its audit practice - an area where it is relatively weak. A number of other Binder offices, including Birmingham, are still considering their position.

Mr Valentine said the group merging with Stoy had considered a number of prospective partners - including Grant Thornton, ranked number seven, and some of the big six firms - as well as remaining independent. It had concluded that a national network would make it easier to service clients and attract staff.