Kentucky CPA firms Dean Dorton Ford and Cotton + Allen plan to merge by the end of the year.

The combined firm will be known as Dean Dorton Allen Ford. It will have at least 160 employees, with 100 in Lexington and 60 in Louisville. But the firm will probably add more employees by the time the merger is completed before the end of the year.

"We saw tremendous opportunities if we were to come together," said Cotton + Allen president Gwen Tilton. "We have a lot of resources we will be bringing to the table."

Tilton noted that Dean Dorton Ford has a health care consulting group that her firm does not have, while her firm has a significant presence in manufacturing and litigation consulting that will provide opportunities for Dean Dorton Ford. She described the transaction as a pure merger with no checks being written, and simply as a combination of the two firms' equity.

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