The two chairmen of recently united firms Mazars and Weiser LLP said they anticipate further expansion.

Mazars chairman and CEO Patrick de Cambourg and Weiser chairman Douglas A. Phillips described the deal they signed in April as not so much a merger, but a deal in which New York-based Weiser’s 74 partners joined Mazars. Brussels-based Mazars now has a presence in 56 countries, and includes 12,500 professionals, including over 680 partners.

“The best way to describe it is that Weiser partners have become partners in Mazars,” Phillips said in a joint interview Wednesday. “Is it a merger? Weiser LLP remains its own entity, so there are complexities around that structure for legal purposes, but in fact all of the worldwide partners of Mazars are partners in the same entity and we march to the same charter and the same rules of association.”

The two firms have operated a joint venture since 2000, but they voted this year to unite forces more closely in order to be able to service global clients on a more consistent basis.

“After 10 years in a joint venture relationship with Weiser and Mazars, we decided that our future was to be in the same partnership,” said de Cambourg. “It’s a combination of the same people following the same principles. Our observation was that the overall accounting profession has not stabilized and there are crucial evolutions taking place in the next 10 or 15 years. More players are going to appear with different institutional models. The existing ones are going to evolve as well and re-engineer the way they are structured. There will also be emerging players from emerging markets, so it’s also a very exciting scene.”

The two firms both belong to the Praxity network and had called on each other over the years for help when needed in other countries, but they will be able to work together more closely now that they are part of the same overall firm. 

Weiser’s presence in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania provides Mazars with reach in the Northeast, particularly in the banking and insurance industries, but the chairmen said they did not have any other specific regions of the U.S. in mind to tackle next. “In the U.S., we have an open mind,” said de Cambourg.

The firm has been ranked among the top five, six or seven in some countries, including China where it ranks No. 5, but in the U.S., Weiser ranks 25th on Accounting Today’s list of the Top 100 Firms. Phillips said the goal of becoming the fifth largest firm in the U.S. had never come up in any meeting he attended.

“Our goal is to create a strong player,” said de Cambourg.

“I think they will double in size to over $250 million and will have offices in a handful of significant markets throughout the U.S.,” said PDI Global CEO Allan Koltin, who has consulted with Weiser on strategic issues and mergers and acquisitions. “It will be interesting to see how this plays out with the other Praxity firms throughout the U.S. My guess is that at some point some of the larger firms like Moss Adams, BKD, Dixon Hughes, Plante Moran, etc., will be ‘invited to the dance,’ but that will definitely be a number of years away.”