Towson, Md. (Dec. 16, 2003) -- Peoria, Ill.-based powerhouse Clifton Gunderson is set to merge mid-Atlantic accounting firm Wooden & Benson into its fold, marking the firm's fourth deal in Maryland in four years.

Clifton Gunderson's board will vote on the deal at their meeting tomorrow. If approved, the merger will become effective Jan. 1, Towson principal Malcolm Taylor told WebCPA. Clifton chief executive Carl George was not immediately available for comment.

CG has been expanding its presence in the area at a steady clip. In October of this year, Clifton merged with Coughlin & Mann in Harford County. In February 2001, the firm merged in Silver Spring-based Fangmeyer & Fangmeyer, and in June of 1999, it merged Baltimore-based Coyne & McLean into its fold. The firm has more than 1,300 employees and offices in 13 states and Washington D.C.

Wooden & Benson, which has a staff of about 30, including four partners, specializes in serving financial institutions, local governments and nonprofits, according to Taylor, who is the human resources principal and an accounting and audit partner in the firm. W&B's managing partner is Karl Silex. Taylor said the plan is for all of Wooden & Benson's staff to join Clifton Gunderson, and eventually to move into the firm's mid-Atlantic regional center, which he said is only a couple of miles away from its current office.

"I think we have specialties that dovetail well," Taylor said. "That's why they were interested in us to start with. It will give us an opportunity to grow more."

— Melissa Klein

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