KPMG International will combine its member firms in the United Kingdom and Germany in an effort to makes its services more consistent and risk-free. The combined firms will operate under the name KPMG Europe LLP and remain a member of KPMG International, which said in a statement that the hope is for other KPMG member firms in Europe to eventually merge into the new entity. Besides giving the combined firm a chance to pool its talent to better serve clients, the business said the KPMG Europe will be able to present a unified voice when it comes to international standards setting. The deal is the first announced by a Big Four firm after the introduction of the European Commission’s Eighth Directive legislation, which will allow cross-border mergers between accounting firms beginning in 2007. Both Germany and Britain are expected to incorporate the directive into national laws some time next year. The Big Four currently operate as networks of national partnerships in Europe because the law in most countries prevents them from being foreign-owned. With combined revenues of more than $2.5 billion in the current fiscal year, a statement from the firm said that KPMG Europe LLP will be the largest professional services firm on the continent. More than 17,000 partners and staff will work in the firm’s 44 offices across the U.K. and Germany. The firm’s head office will be located in Frankfurt and be chaired jointly by KPMG LLP U.K. chairman John Griffith-Jones and the chairman of KPMG Deutsche Treuhand-Gesellschaft AG’s managing board Dr. Rolf Nonnenmacher. Both the German and U.K. boards have already unanimously approved the proposal, but the merger must still be okayed by the firms’ partners in December.
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