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Andersen Agrees to Integration

March 28, 2002

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SYDNEY, Australia (AP) _ Ernst & Young said Thursday it will integrate the Australian operations of accounting giant Andersen Australia into its own local business.

The enlarged firm, to be known as Ernst & Young, will have revenues in excess of $364 million.

``The proposed integration is a positive move for both our firms, and will substantially strengthen the presence of Ernst & Young in the marketplace as a leading provider of professional services,″ said Ernst & Young Australia chief executive Brian Schwartz.

Andersen’s Australian operations had also been in discussion with Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, but that company announced earlier Thursday that it had decided against a merger.

On Monday KPMG and Andersen Australia announced they had abandoned exploratory merger talks.

About 2,000 members of Andersen’s 86,000 global work force are based in Australia.

Andersen affiliates around the world have been seeking mergers with other major accounting firms since the U.S. arm of Andersen was indicted for alleged obstruction of justice in the Enron collapse.

Andersen CEO Garry Hounsell said the company was ``delighted″ to be joining Ernst & Young.

``Through this integration with Ernst & Young, we can now move forward as part of a larger organization, with strong global ties,″ he said. ``This will benefit Andersen clients and also give our people new enhanced opportunities for the future.″

Schwartz said approval of the integration was subject to the completion of normal due diligence, regulatory approval and partner votes, which would occur during the coming weeks.

Subject to the outcome of these arrangements, the new entity would begin operation from mid to late May 2002.

Andersen Legal will also be integrated into Ernst & Young.

``We will act quickly to ensure the integration of the two businesses is seamless for all our clients and staff,″ Schwartz said.

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