Warren Averett, Kimbrough & Marino LLC is merging with Wilson, Price, Barranco, Blankenship & Billingsley P.C. and O’Sullivan Creel LLP to create one of the largest CPA firms in the Southeast.

The merger took effect on Jan. 1, 2012, and the three firms will operate under the holding company name of Warren Averett LLC, with the identity of the original firm also being retained after the Warren Averett name. The combined firm will have more than 550 team members and 12 offices spanning from the Tennessee Valley to the Gulf of Mexico. Warren Averett LLC will also rank among the top 35 firms in the nation and within the top five largest southeastern firms, according to the firm. Warren Averett ranked 78th on Accounting Today’s 2011 list of the Top 100 Firms, with $37.03 million in annual revenue.

Under the new structure, James W. Cunningham, CPA, will serve as CEO of Warren Averett, LLC and continue to serve as CEO and managing member of Birmingham, Ala.-based Warren, Averett, Kimbrough & Marino. Montgomery, Ala.-based Wilson Price will operate as Warren Averett Wilson Price, with Charles A. Jordan, CPA, and Richard M. Stabler, CPA, maintaining their roles as co-managing members. O’Sullivan Creel, LLP, with six offices spreading from Baldwin County, Ala., to Okaloosa County, Fla., will operate as Warren Averett O’Sullivan Creel, with Mort O’Sullivan, CPA, continuing as managing member.

The combined firm plans to grow the services offered in each market beyond audit and tax, including wealth management, staffing and recruiting, technology consulting and outsourcing, and retirement plan administration and investments. The firm will target a variety of industries, including health care, manufacturing, financial services, construction, aerospace and defense, life science and technology, public sector and real estate. Office locations include Birmingham, Huntsville, Montgomery, Cullman, Anniston, Auburn, Foley and Fairhope, Ala., and Pensacola, Fort Walton Beach, Destin, and Crestview, Fla.

“All three firms are members of The Leading Edge Alliance, and through that affiliation, we have grown to respect one another and were encouraged by our similarities in our culture, clients and commitment to client service,” O’Sullivan said in a statement. “I’ve been in this profession for 38 years and I’ve not seen anything as exciting as what we are undertaking today.”

The combined firm is expected to soon grow into a mega-regional size firm through further mergers in other Southern states.

“This combination positions the new firm to become the next mega-regional in the Southeast,” said Koltin Consulting Group CEO Allan D. Koltin,, who provided counsel to the firms on the merger. “I think it’s just a matter of time before this powerhouse firm will be generating well over $100 million in fees. What struck me right away was the culture compatibility of the firms. There was a deep trust and friendship. All of the firms belong to the Leading Edge Alliance, and it made getting through the more difficult issues of branding, governance and compensation that much easier. The biggest disagreement they had was who had the best college football team in the Southeast! I wouldn’t be surprised to see additional combinations in places like Atlanta, New Orleans and other key markets in the near future.”

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