Two more accountancy firms to merge

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TWO more of the UK's middle- ranking accountancy firms are to merge in a move that provides further evidence of the shake-up among practices below the Big Six.

The link between Baker Tilly and Milne Ross, effective from 1 September, will create a firm with total fee income of more than pounds 30m, ranked 17th in both the UK and the world.

The combined firm, which will operate under the name Baker Tilly, will have 78 partners and about 450 professional staff. It will draw on the two firms' strengths in the arts, entertainment and media, property and construction and professional practices.

Clive Parritt, who is managing partner of Baker Tilly and will carry out the same role at the merged firm, said the move provided both firms with 'a very good opportunity'.

They had been eyeing the market with a view to a merger for some months, but had turned down other deals because they did not meet their requirements.

Martin Rodgers, chairman of the Milne Ross management board, who will join the combined firm's management team, said his firm was delighted by the development. It enabled the firm, which has 17 partners against Baker Tilly's 61, to acquire the greater national coverage and international strength it needed to attract bigger clients.

In addition it will benefit through gaining access to Baker Tilly's significant investment in information technology and more evolved management system.

The combined firm will have nearly 20 offices in the UK and access to more than 100 cities around the world through Baker Tilly's membership of the BKR International accounting group, which has a worldwide turnover of more than dollars 275m ( pounds 145m).

Although the merger will lead to economies of scale, Mr Parritt said he did not expect any redundancies among professional staff.

After several months of concentrating on expanding outside London the arrival of a high-quality team would help strengthen the centre, he added.

The negotiations were co- ordinated by Douglas Llambias, an independent consultant to professional firms who also played a role in the recent merger of Stoy Hayward and Finnie & Co. .

Mr Llambias said that he expected further link-ups as firms took advantage of the economic slowdown to assess their objectives. Decisions would depend on individual firms' requirements rather than economic pressures.