Merger of equals as Grant Thornton and PKF in Johannesburg join forces to create a formidable client service offering

6 May 2013 | Category: Corporate, News


  • unparalleled position in mid-tier market
  • clients to benefit from synergies, mutual practice management styles
  • ideal match – complimentary strengths in the same market niche

Grant Thornton and PKF in Johannesburg have announced today that they will merge the two significant mid-tier assurance and business advisory offices to create a formidable professional services firm in the city of gold.

The merger, which was formally signed this morning at Grant Thornton’s offices in Sandton, is effective 1 July 2013, when PKF Johannesburg will officially become part of Grant Thornton Johannesburg and Grant Thornton South Africa .

This is hot on the heels of another recent two-way merger when TIS/Fintis and Rebahale, two black-owned professional services firms, merged with Grant Thornton South Africa in March 2013 to enhance its position in the public sector, underlining the firm’s commitment to continuing transformation.

Both Grant Thornton and PKF have their roots in South Africa with over 169 years of combined experience providing assurance, tax and advisory services to dynamic organisations, namely listed companies, privately held businesses and private equity backed organisations. They also have a thriving presence in the public sector throughout South Africa.

The new CEO of Grant Thornton Johannesburg will be Andrew Hannington, who is currently a board member of PKF International and chairman of PKF in South Africa. Jeanette Hern who plays a significant leadership role in Grant Thornton – as well as being the driving force behind the firm’s gender equality initiatives – will assume the role of deputy CEO in Johannesburg. Current CEO of Grant Thornton Johannesburg, David Campbell, recently tendered his resignation to return home to his family in the UK and to explore new business opportunities.

“This is an incredibly exciting opportunity to work with a firm with similar goals and truly well aligned cultures, coupled with a global force to be reckoned with,” says Andrew Hannington, CEO elect of Grant Thornton Johannesburg. “This is a merger of equals – combining PKF Johannesburg’s strong market position with Grant Thornton’s established brand and intellectual property. It unifies the strengths and specialised expertise of each entity resulting in a formidable firm which will be unparalleled in the mid-tier market.”

Grant Thornton South Africa (formerly Kessel Feinstein) was established in 1920 and PKF Johannesburg was founded in 1943 as Fisher Hoffman. Together they provide high quality assurance services to over 11% (45) entities listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, helping them unlock their potential for growth.

The merger will entrench Grant Thornton’s position as 5th in South Africa (ranked by fee income) according to the November 2012 International Accounting Bulletin (IAB) South Africa survey. Grant Thornton is the fastest growing global network and was recognised as the 2013 ‘Network of the year’* by the IAB. This achievement is one of the most significant accolades within the accounting profession.

Jeanette Hern, deputy CEO elect, says, “For our businesses, today’s merger of equals forms the next step in our national strategic growth plans. The new combined Johannesburg staff complement of over 500 enhances our capacity and will be beneficial to our clients. The merger is not expected to have any impact on staff numbers and will bolster the South African firm with a national staff complement of over 900.”
Andrew Hannington continues, “Our new Johannesburg office will create a more richly resourced firm, a superior client offering and will significantly strengthen our position relative to the big four, especially in terms of audit choice – a heated topic currently being debated between the auditing profession, global regulators, and the boards of listed companies. Clients are the clear winners here. We are now in an unparalleled position to service dynamic businesses, particularly as companies emerge from the global economic downturn.”

Both firms have ‘growth’ as a key strategy and the merger will see the Grant Thornton tagline – An instinct for growth – continue to inform the way in which we deliver our client service – a commitment to which we passionately adhere.

The merged offices will operate as Grant Thornton Johannesburg within the national network. Other PKF offices in South Africa will continue to trade under the PKF name and will not be part of the merger at this stage.

“Mergers are a vital step in achieving our strategic ambitions and Grant Thornton is committed to fast and strategic growth with like-minded organisations and individuals. This merger is a truly significant step for Grant Thornton in South Africa and I am pleased to welcome the new partners and staff to our global organisation. I look forward to applying the enhanced capacity and expertise that will come about as a result of this exciting merger, to our clients in South Africa and around the world,” concludes Ed Nusbaum, global CEO of Grant Thornton.

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Notes to editors
*About the International Accounting Bulletin 2013 Network of the Year Award
The International Accounting Bulletin Awards are designed to celebrate accounting achievements over the past year by emphasising the individuals and businesses that have moved the industry forward. To win the ‘Network of the Year’ award, firms had to demonstrate strength across a number of key areas which included evidence of top-level network-wide audit quality, a strengthened position in strategically important markets and a strong industry leadership.

Fast facts
Johannesburg fast facts

Grant Thornton JHB
(pre-merger)
PKF JHB Grant Thornton JHB
(post-merger)
Revenue R210m* R130m R340m
Partners and directors 36 24 60
Personnel 261 260 521

*Source: International Accounting Bulletin – November 2012

South Africa fast facts

Grant Thornton South Africa
(pre-merger)
PKF JHB Grant Thornton South Africa
(post-merger)
Revenue R416m* R130m R546m
Partners and directors 76 24 100
Personnel 673 260 933
Offices 9 1 9

*Source: International Accounting Bulletin – November 2012

About the merged Johannesburg offices
PKF Johannesburg has 24 partners and directors with a staff complement of 260 and total revenues of R130m.

Grant Thornton Johannesburg has 36* partners, principals and directors with a staff complement of 261 and revenues of R210m. *Includes newly appointed partners and principals – 5 partners & 4 principals.

The firms are well aligned strategically and the merger in Johannesburg makes good cultural and business sense. The merged offices are now in an unparalleled position to offer an enhanced and competitive service to the mid-tier, dynamic businesses market. PKF Johannesburg’s merger with Grant Thornton substantially strengthens Grant Thornton’s ranking as the fifth largest International Network firm in South Africa according to the November 2012 International Accounting Bulletin survey.

About PKF Johannesburg
Situated in the hub of Sandton’s business district, PKF Johannesburg established in 1943 as Fisher Hoffman, has a longstanding history of excellence and growth. We provide expertise in multi-disciplinary auditing, accounting and business advisory services.

Our client base includes over 30 entities listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, as well as mid-market and growing businesses, privately owned companies, medical aid schemes, government agencies and not-for-profit organisations.

While we pride ourselves on our ability to take on large, complex, transactions, we stay accessible, keep things simple and never stray from our commitment to straightforward advice. It means delivering solutions in a personalised, pragmatic and cost-effective manner.

For many years PKF has trained and graduated the fifth highest number of chartered accountants in South Africa and the training programmes will be continued with new vigour.


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Notes to editors
You may quote freely from this publication, provided you acknowledge the source. This publication is an outline for information purposes and should not be relied upon for detailed planning. Readers are advised to consult professional advisors for guidance relating to new or existing legislation which might affect their business and personal decisions.

About Grant Thornton South Africa
Grant Thornton South Africa is a member firm of Grant Thornton International Ltd (GTIL). Grant Thornton South Africa was founded in 1920 (previously Kessel Feinstein). We are leaders in our chosen market, providing assurance, tax and specialist business advice to dynamic organisations – listed companies, large privately held businesses and private equity backed organisations.

We employ 933 people in South Africa with 100 partners and directors. Grant Thornton has a national presence with offices in Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Durban, George Johannesburg, Nelspruit, Port Elizabeth, Pretoria and Rustenburg. South Africa is a major force in Africa, alongside 20 member firms on the continent. We operate in Algeria, Botswana, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Guinea, Kenya, Libya, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe and are ideally positioned to facilitate clients’ expansion plans in these countries.

About Grant Thornton International Ltd
Grant Thornton is one of the world’s leading organisations of independent assurance, tax and advisory firms. These firms help dynamic organisations unlock their potential for growth by providing meaningful, forward looking advice. Proactive teams, led by approachable partners in these firms, use insights, experience and instinct to understand complex issues for privately owned, publicly listed and public sector clients and help them to find solutions.

More than 35,000 Grant Thornton people, across over 100 countries, are focused on making a difference to clients, colleagues and the communities in which we live and work.

Grant Thornton South Africa is a member firm of Grant Thornton International Ltd (GTIL). GTIL and the member firms are not a worldwide partnership. Services are delivered by the member firms. GTIL and its member firms are not agents of, and do not obligate, one another and are not liable for one another’s acts or omissions.

Grant Thornton International Ltd. is the fastest growing global accountancy network and has recently been awarded 2013 'Network of the year’ by The International Accounting Bulletin (IAB). The International Accounting Bulletin awards are designed to celebrate accounting achievements over the past year by emphasising the individuals and businesses that have moved the industry forward. To win the ‘Network of the Year’ award, firms had to demonstrate strength across a number of key areas which included evidence of top-level network-wide audit quality, a strengthened position in strategically important markets and a strong industry leadership.


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