Eisner LLP has combined practices with Amper, Politziner & Mattia LLP, creating one of the largest accounting firms in the U.S., with over $250 million in annual revenue.

The new firm will be known as EisnerAmper, with offices across New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia. The firm will have more than 1,200 staff members, including 170 partners. Eisner ranked 24th on Accounting Today’s 2010 list of the Top 100 Firms, with $133.25 million in revenue, while Amper ranked 26th with $119.90 million in revenue.

The heads of the two firms, Eisner managing partner Charles Weinstein and Amper managing partner and CEO Howard Cohen, began talking about a merger last September (see Eisner and Amper Reportedly in Merger Talks).

“As members of Baker Tilly and competing in the New York market, we’ve known each other for a long time,” said Weinstein, who is now the CEO of the combined firm. “After some casual conversations, we decided to put together a breakfast meeting to see if there really were going to be some opportunities for us to combine.”

The first meeting took place on Sept. 2, 2009, which coincidentally turned out to be the birthday of Amper Politziner founders Phil Politziner and Monroe Amper. “There’s a lot of karma in that,” Weinstein said.

Shortly after Amper merged in 2008 with Goldenberg Rosenthal, Amper had created a strategic plan for the next two to three years (see Amper Politziner Merges with Goldenberg Rosenthal).  “Our main focus was getting larger in New York City,” said Cohen, who is now chairman of the combined firm. Meanwhile, New York-based Eisner wanted to expand to Philadelphia, where Amper has a large presence.

Cohen and Weinstein see the combined firm as becoming a dominant and pre-eminent firm in the Northeast. Both firms have mostly grown organically over the years, in part by hiring from the Big Four and other national firms. But Eisner has not merged with another firm in over 20 years, according to Cohen, and Amper has only done two mergers in the last 45 years.

The combined firm now plans to focus on a number of niches and industries. It now has nearly 100 public company clients, making it the tenth-largest firm in the country in terms of servicing public companies, according to Weinstein. Both firms also service financial services companies. But while Eisner has mostly worked with hedge funds, private equity funds, and broker-dealers, Amper has mainly serviced insurance companies and banking entities.

“We have a real wow of financial services that we can provide to that sector, not only doing the work for the funds, but for the portfolio companies as well,” said Cohen.

Other niches include Amper’s specialty in servicing clean technology and pharmaceutical industry clients, while Eisner is strong on the software side with media and entertainment clients, according to Weinstein. Pension audits are another specialty, with the combined firm having over 400 pension audit clients. Real estate clients are also a major niche, including construction and development companies.

While the two firms signed the merger papers only last Friday, they have been working quietly on merging their practices for the past three months. The two firms formed an integration oversight committee, as well as integration teams in areas such as audit, tax, consulting, litigation, finance, human resources and marketing. They had their first partner vote in May and the final partner vote on Thursday and Friday of last week. The merger was structured as a combination of equals. The combined firm opened its doors on Monday morning under the EisnerAmper name.

“I watched how they dealt with issues such as firm name, chairman vs. CEO, etc., and on every issue, leadership checked their egos at the door,” said Allan D. Koltin, CEO of PDI Global Inc., who consulted with both firms on the merger. “Sometimes with very successful firms, they get blinded by their press clippings and have a ‘Don’t screw up a good thing’ mentality. In this case, leadership challenged the troops to put personal agendas and fears aside and see if something truly incredible could be created. This is the biggest merger of two U.S.-based accounting firms in the 21st century, and I think it will be a trend that we will see continue for the next couple of years.”

In the future, the two leaders plan to expand the firm as far north as Boston and as far south as Washington, D.C., but they said they do not plan to make it a national firm with offices around the country. However, they do see themselves doing more business servicing mid-market international companies, and Eisner already has an office in the Cayman Islands that is mainly used for financial services and insurance industry clients.

The firm expects to retain all of its current employees, and has been recruiting on college campuses for entry-level hires as well. It has also been reaching out through social networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, as well as YouTube, to market its services.

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