LarsonAllen plans to combine with Florida CPA firm NCT Group in July, expanding the Minneapolis-based firm’s presence in the Sunshine State.

The deal, which was announced Friday, will create one of the state’s largest government audit practices. It also strengthens LarsonAllen’s growing presence in Central Florida and provides area businesses with expanded advisory and accounting services and a focus on industry specialization.

The merger is expected to take effect on July 1. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

LarsonAllen approached NCT about two years ago, according to NCT managing partner Jay Gray. “We saw first of all their philosophy of how they do business,” he said. “It fits in with our philosophy of how client service goes. Over the course of time we got a real good feel for their culture and how they go about servicing clients. We were also impressed by the way they treat staff and employees.”

He said his own firm has adapted to growth over the years by increasing its offices and staff. NCT now has 64 people on staff, including nine partners. All of them are expected to transition to LarsonAllen, according to Gray, and all three of the Florida offices will remain open.

"LarsonAllen allowed our firm to add to that expertise,” he said. “Between the two of us, we felt like there was a good mesh of what we do and what they do. We have a very strong governmental practice in the Florida area. That is going to make us more competitive and stronger in the not-for profit and governmental area. We were also very interested in what they could bring to us in opportunities we could see in health care and other areas that we didn’t have and that we thought LarsonAllen could help us with. Our international presence has been expanding and LarsonAllen has a strong international tax practice. We’re just getting into that area and we needed some backup. We thought that would make the two firms stronger than on an individual basis.”

LarsonAllen ranked 18th on Accounting Today’s 2011 list of the Top 100 Firms, with $227 million in revenue. Denny Schleper, chief business officer at LarsonAllen, said the deal was part of the firm’s Central Florida region strategy. NCT will add three more offices to that region, along with audit clients for cities, counties and other government districts in that part of the state. Schleper expects the firm to reach around $300 million in revenue for the fiscal year, but that will probably include future acquisitions. He declined to say which firms might be acquired or merged. “There are others that are being negotiated and scheduled, but nothing at this point that are far enough along for disclosure,” he said.

The potential firm combinations are in various parts of the country, but are all in areas where LarsonAllen now operates, strengthening the firm’s existing areas and reinforcing its current industry and service strategy.

Gray cited research and development tax credits, international tax knowledge, and highly focused industry specialization as some of the benefits the combination brings to the NCT Group’s clients and staff.

The firm, which dates bacjk to 1959, has gone through mergers in 1996 and 2002, according to its Web site. The firm was founded by George T. Nunez. In 1973, his son, Charles Nunez, along with Tom Collins and David Touchton, formed the firm known as Nunez, Collins, Touchton and Company. Later the firm selected the name The NCT Group CPA's LLP. In 1996, the firm formerly known as Dorrell & Hancock joined NCT. In 2002, NCT merged with both Tedder Grimley & Company and Baker & Forbes. The NCT Group serves clients throughout Florida from its Lakeland-based location and also has offices in Winter Haven and Sebring, Fla.

LarsonAllen has several other offices in Florida already, in Tampa, Orlando, Boca Raton and Ybor City.

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