A mega-merger between ailing US Arthur Andersen and KPMG is almost complete. KPMG tax partner Warrick Cleine talks about the merger’s impacts on the local auditing and consulting service market.
Why has KPMG decided to buy Andersen?
Trouble surrounding the collapse US energy giant Enron prompted Andersen member firms world-wide to close down or to merge with other auditing companies. In Vietnam, Andersen chose to combine with KPMG as the best partner to maintain its clients and to offer career opportunities to its staff. To date, the merging process is almost complete, except for the finalisation of some legal aspects. One June 17, Andersen’s employees resigned from Andersen and started to work for KPMG.
What changes in KPMG’s labour and management structure and strategies are expected after the merger?
As part of the merger, KPMG invited all Andersen’s employees to work for KPMG and nearly 90% of Andersen’s professional staff, including the management team, agreed to work for KPMG. Clearly, KPMG is now much bigger than before although our registered capital remains unchanged for the time being. We will strengthen our strategic focus on industries such as the banking and finance, manufacturing, insurance, telecoms and energy sectors. These are emerging industries in Vietnam, and KPMG is developing extensive industry expertise.
Some say KPMG will be more aggressive in consulting services in which PricewaterhouseCoopers is currently a big rival?
The combination with Andersen allows us to expand the depth of services we can offer in Vietnam. By combining the best of both firms, we can aim to be market leaders in areas we would not have focused on previously. Specialist consulting services such as assisting Vietnamese exporters to the US market, designing tax and customs compliance strategies and information technology consulting are examples. The Japanese investment sector is another area, which is important to Vietnam, and where KPMG has substantial resources and expertise. After the merger, the new KPMG is now home to 250 professional staff.
Who will you target after the merger, Vietnamese or foreign clients?
In recent years, along with the development of Vietnam’s economy, many local enterprises are more interested in auditing and consulting services. This is good news, but the market is still developing and many domestic firms do not believe they can pay for foreign advisers. It will take time for them to realise the benefits that can come from top quality professional advice. Our main target in Vietnam continues to be the global clients that we work with all around the world.
[Intellasia Legal News]