Eyeing the niche school audit market, two small accounting firms in Georgia and Ohio recently announced their merger.

Savannah, Ga.- based Lazard Dana LLP will merge with Franklin, Ohio-based Froehle and Co. Inc. PC with the goal of becoming a leader in financial statement preparations and audits of private and public career schools, according to a statement released by the firms. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The combined staffs will total 33, and the Ohio location, with a staff of seven, will continue operating as a satellite office.

"This marks a defining moment for Lazard Dana," said Lazard Dana managing partner John Matthews, in a statement. "Lazard Dana is poised to become a leader in a rapidly growing area, setting the standard with a comprehensive skill set and bringing together a team of experienced private career school professionals that is unparalleled in the industry."

Preparation of financial statements and student financial aid audits will continue to be Froehle and Co.'s focus. The firm currently provides services to over 120 schools around the country. Lazard Dana was formed in January 2002 through a merger of two Savannah accounting firms, and the full-service accounting firm is a partner in the McGladrey Network.

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