ACCOUNTING: “Merger Of Equals” with Grant Thornton and PKF Merger

Grant Thornton and PKF in Johannesburg have announced today that they will merge the two significant mid-tier assurance and business advisory offices to create a formidable professional services firm in the city of gold.

The merger, which was formally signed this morning at Grant Thornton’s offices in Sandton, is effective 1 July 2013, when PKF Johannesburg will officially become part of the Grant Thornton Johannesburg member firm and Grant Thornton South Africa.

This is hot on the heels of another recent two-way merger when TIS/Fintis and Rebahale, two black-owned professional services firms, merged with Grant Thornton South Africa in March 2013 to enhance its position in the public sector, underlining the firm’s commitment to continuing transformation.

Both Grant Thornton and PKF have their roots in South Africa with over 169 years of combined experience providing assurance, tax and advisory services to dynamic organisations, namely listed companies, privately held businesses and private equity backed organisations. They also have a thriving presence in the public sector throughout South Africa.

The new CEO of Grant Thornton Johannesburg will be Andrew Hannington, who is currently a board member of PKF International and chairman of PKF in South Africa. Jeanette Hern who plays a significant leadership role in Grant Thornton – as well as being the driving force behind the firm’s gender equality initiatives – will assume the role of deputy CEO in Johannesburg. Current CEO of Grant Thornton Johannesburg, David Campbell, recently tendered his resignation to return home to his family in the UK and to explore new business opportunities.

“This is an incredibly exciting opportunity to work with a firm with similar goals and truly well aligned cultures, coupled with a global force to be reckoned with,” says Andrew Hannington, CEO elect of Grant Thornton Johannesburg. “This is a merger of equals – combining PKF Johannesburg’s strong market position with Grant Thornton’s established brand and intellectual property. It unifies the strengths and specialised expertise of each entity resulting in a formidable firm which will be unparalleled in the mid-tier market.”

Grant Thornton South Africa (formerly Kessel Feinstein) was established in 1920 and PKF Johannesburg was founded in 1943 as Fisher Hoffman. Together they provide high quality assurance services to over 11% (45) entities listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, helping them unlock their potential for growth.

The merger will entrench Grant Thornton’s position as 5th in South Africa (ranked by fee income) according to the November 2012 International Accounting Bulletin (IAB) SA survey. Grant Thornton is the fastest growing global network and was recognised as the 2013 ‘Network of the year’* by the IAB. This achievement is one of the most significant accolades within the accounting profession.

Jeanette Hern, deputy CEO elect, says, “For our businesses, today’s merger of equals forms the next step in our national strategic growth plans. The new combined Johannesburg staff complement of over 500 enhances our capacity and will be beneficial to our clients. The merger is not expected to have any impact on staff numbers and will bolster the South African firm with a national staff complementof over 900.”

Andrew Hannington continues, “Our new Johannesburg office will create a more richly resourced firm, a superior client offering and will significantly strengthen our position relative to the big four, especially in terms of audit choice – a heated topic currently being debated between the auditing profession, global regulators, and the boards of listed companies. Clients are the clear winners here. We are now in an unparalleled position to service dynamic businesses, particularly as companies emerge from the global economic downturn.”

Both firms have ‘growth’ as a key strategy and the merger will see the Grant Thornton tagline – An instinct for growth – continue to inform the way in which we deliver our client service – a commitment to which we passionately adhere.

The merged offices will operate as Grant Thornton Johannesburg within the national network. Other PKF offices in South Africa will continue to trade under the PKF name and will not be part of the merger at this stage.

“Mergers are a vital step in achieving our strategic ambitions and Grant Thornton is committed to fast and strategic growth with like-minded organisations and individuals. This merger is a truly significant step for Grant Thornton in South Africa and I am pleased to welcome the new partners and staff to our global organisation. I look forward to applying the enhanced capacity and expertise that will come about as a result of this exciting merger, to our clients in South Africa and around the world,” concludes Ed Nusbaum, global CEO of Grant Thornton.

Gauteng Business News