The Canadian arms of Grant Thornton International and BDO International announced plan to merge their businesses.

Grant Thornton LLP and BDO Dunwoody LLP have said that the proposed deal would create a national firm with 685 partners and 4,800 staff operating out of nearly 200 locations, as well as offer corporate Canada an alternative to the Big Four. According to published reports, spokespeople from the firms said that there are no plans to close any offices, or reduce any staff members, as a result of the merger.

The combined firm would create the second largest accounting firm in Canada, trailing only Deloitte in total employee count. The firms currently rank as the fifth and sixth largest accounting operations in the country.

Published reports say that both firms still have a way to go before becoming major players in the audit world. Grant Thornton is the auditor of three of the top 100 companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange, while BDO Dunwoody audits none of those companies.

A merger would require the approval of 75 percent of the partners in both firms. A vote will be held in early July, and the merger -- which would involve the combined firm taking the name of one of the two Canadian entities -- could become effective by next January.

According to Canada’s Financial Post, Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton, the Quebec-based arm of Grant Thornton, is also participating in talks to join BDO Dunwoody in Montreal and the Ottawa area.

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