Accountants bulk up during downturn

09/07/2009 - 00:00

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PERTH accountancy firms are bulking up their businesses, in spite of the market woes, as a handful of new partners enjoy their first week sharing in the risks and rewards of their chosen company.

Accountants bulk up during downturn

PERTH accountancy firms are bulking up their businesses, in spite of the market woes, as a handful of new partners enjoy their first week sharing in the risks and rewards of their chosen company.

The state's five biggest accountant groups have made a number of July 1 promotions, along with the usual appointments of partners (coming from other firms) during the year.

Robert Radley, Perth advisory leader of PricewaterhouseCoopers, said along with the appointment of three partners, Brian Beresford had moved from consulting to lead a corporate finance unit specialising in resources.

"The area we are looking at is inbound investment, like capital raisings," Mr Radley said.

Mr Radley and Mr Beresford were partners at management consulting firm GEM Consulting, which was bought by PwC in 2007.

Mr Radley said there was plenty of activity during the year, and that there were good growth prospects for a resource-focused corporate finance team.

"The main areas where we have seen activity is in corporate and business recovery," he said.

Deloitte has also made some changes, with four new partners and an additional two joining soon. The appointments coincide with the announcement that the Perth office delivered a 28 per cent net increase in revenue, compared to 11 per cent nationally for the firm.

Unlike some firms, which only have equity-partners, Deloitte has a mix of salaried and equity partners.

Perth office managing director Keith Jones said there had been particularly strong growth in Deloitte's corporate reorganisation division and that, in turn, meant the company had appointed two new partners to that division, Dermott McVeigh and Bob Colan.

"Many organisations have used the recent market conditions to review and optimise business, finance and tax structures, as well as pursuing merger, acquisition and reorganisation opportunities," Mr Jones said.

Mr McVeigh said the division avoided "boiler plate" recommen-dations and instead considered all options to keep companies afloat, such as bringing in joint-venture partners or introducing equity into the business.

"But when we are required to step into the voluntary administration shoes we'll do that," Mr McVeigh said.

Deloitte advised Cape Lambert Iron Ore on the $135 million acquisition of the assets of CopperCo during the fiscal year and conducted a sale process for the disposal of Matrix Metals and its assets.

Mr Colan said companies needed to be prepared for a second wave of difficulties after the financial crisis, which included rising unemployment and high debt levels.

Several corporate finance units won work off the back of companies going into administration. PCF Capital Group was on the other end of the Cape Lambert transaction, advising the receivers and managers of CopperCo, and was involved in the sale of the Minjar Gold Project to Golden Stallion.

Industry heavyweight Ernst & Young made Irshaad Songerwala a partner, taking the firm's partner numbers to 45. It also has 47 executive directors. E&Y is by far the biggest player in the local accountant market, with well over 400 accountants.

RSM Bird Cameron made one new fiscal year partner, with the promotion of Jason Hennessy in the company's Fremantle office, while insolvency partner Mark Conlan was appointed to a three-year term on the national executive.

 

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