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Robson Rhodes merger still leaves Grant Thornton distant fifth

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4th Jul 2007
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Monday night saw the completion of the Grant Thornton’s merger with Robson Rhodes. It’s reported to be one of the biggest LLP mergers in British history, with 17 lawyers on the Grant Thornton side alone, but the Big Four still remain clear market leaders. Rob Lewis reports.

The enlarged firm will have more than 300 partners and 4,400 staff, operating from 33 locations and an initial fee income of £387m per year. Michael Cleary, Grant Thornton's CEO, has stated intentions to increase that to £500m within three years. In terms of overall UK fee income, it now displaces BDO Stoy Hayward as the country’s fifth largest accounting firm (BDO’s revenue for the year ended 2006 was £330m).

Grant Thornton chief exec Cleary has never made any secrets about his intentions to challenge the Big Four, and it is thought that Robson Rhodes’ AIM audit clients made it an attractive merger partner. But the figures indicate there’s still a considerable gap, in terms of market share and business size, between GT and the four in front. The smallest of the Big Four firms, Ernst & Young, has 470 partners and a fee income of £1.13bn.

“It’s an interesting development,” said Paul George, director of the POB, “but it doesn’t give them a significant penetration at the top end of the market.”

In fact, according to figures released by investment research firm Hemscott in February, the merger will actually increase Grant Thornton’s presence in the FTSE 250 by 100%. It now has two clients.

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