Brussels to take in-depth look at Coopers-P&Y merger

The European Commission is to carry out an in-depth investigation of the proposed $13bn merger between Coopers & Lybrand and Price Waterhouse, the accountancy and management consultancy firms. Roger Trapp reports.

The Commission is worried that the move could give the enlarged firm high market shares in such areas as audit and tax work in certain EU states.

The Commission's decision had been widely expected ever since the planned deal was announced last September and means that the firms will probably not know whether they have won approval until the end of May.

The announcement made clear that, "given the world-wide extent of the operation", there would be consultations with the US authorities also examining the proposed merger.

Peter Smith, chairman of Coopers & Lybrand UK and due to be a member of the team heading the merged firm, said last night: "We have always recognised the possibility that the Commission would want to move to a second-stage inquiry, given the complexity of the services we provide and the number of countries where we operate."

Speaking on behalf of both firms, he added that the phrase "raises serious doubts as to its compatibility with the common market" was the standard phrase used when the Commission referred a merger to a stage-two inquiry. "We are confident that we shall be able to satisfy any concerns which the Commission identifies during this phase," Mr Smith said.

There was no formal announcement yesterday on the planned $18bn merger between two other Big Six firms, KPMG and Ernst & Young, because they submitted their proposal some time later and it is understood that the Commission is still gathering views on the deal.

However, Karel van Miert, Competition Commissioner, is reported to have said earlier this week that he assumed he would open an in-depth inquiry into it so that the two proposals could be assessed in parallel. Both merger camps have recently sought to stress the European benefits of their deals.

Coopers and PW have claimed that thousands of jobs would be created in the region if the deal is allowed to go ahead, while KPMG and E&Y have sought to stress that their combination would include a strong European element in the leadership and would therefore act as a bulwark against perceived US domination of the accounting and consulting sector.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Financial Adviser

£20000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you recently QCA Level 4 qu...

SThree: Graduate Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 - £22500 per annum + OTE £30K: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

Guru Careers: Application Support Analyst / 1st Line Support

£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Application Support Analyst / 1st L...

Guru Careers: .NET Developer / Web Developer

£45K - £55K (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a full stack .NET D...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence