KPMG now Australia’s RL capital

RL capital
KPMG Australia CEO Gary Wingrove.

Having completed its acquisition of Ferrier Hodgson this week, KPMG is now home to more registered liquidators (RL) than any other firm.

Based on the most recent ASIC data, the acquisition of Ferriers almost quadruples KPMG’s RL contingent, taking it from nine to 34 as of Monday when receptionists at what had been Ferriers offices started telling callers they had contacted KPMG.

By comparison rival professional services behemoth PwC, which swallowed PPB Advisory last year, has 29 RL, though that number is set to shrink by one next month when industry veteran Ken Whittingham departs.

With 30 RL, Worrells sits just above PwC while of the other majors, Deloitte comes in next with 24.

Next comes one of the last two independents KordaMentha with 23, then SV Partners with 20, then the other large independent, McGrathNicol (MN) with 18.

After MN is FTI Consulting with 15 (soon to be 14 with the departure of Quentin Olde) and then EY with 11.

Of those RL listed as being with Ferriers, the only one we’ve been able to identify as not going to KPMG is ex-Ferriers partner and turnaround consultant Jim Sarantinos.

The Ferriers takeover also gives KPMG bankruptcy capacity through veteran Max Donnelly and Perth-based Garry Trevor.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the acquisition is how having such a large restructuring and insolvency practice will affect the remaining large independents, KordaMentha and McGrathNicol.

When KPMG and Ferriers confirmed the deal in March this year, they said the combined restructuring and forensic advisory practice (the word “insolvency” does not appear in the official press release) would comprise 27 partners and more than 200 specialist staff.

“Traditionally, KPMG has always focused on the turnaround and restructuring side of the practice, which has enjoyed sound growth year on year for the past five years,” KPMG Australia CEO Gary Wingrove said at the time.

“But we haven’t had the capacity to meet the market opportunity – until now. This merger builds great scale and capability, quickly, making us a highly competitive force.”

That contingent of specialist staff now includes highly respected practitioners like PPB co-founder Steve Parbery, who joins KPMG as a senior adviser and will position the KPMG practice favourably in terms of winning work from the top echelon of key markets.

Parbery was excluded from transitioning to PwC during the PPB takeover by his role as special purpose liquidator of Queensland Nickel, a role that put him in conflict with work undertaken by PwC for the Clive Palmer-controlled nickel refiner.

Along with Glen Livingstone, Parbery ended up at Ferriers, albeit briefly and it’s not hard to speculate about what might have been known by senior Ferriers partners about a potential deal with KPMG at the time Parbery and Livingstone were brought across.

But expecting a practice the size of the new KPMG to eschew formal insolvency appointments in favour of restructuring and advice work would be naive.

The construction sector is awash with exads-in-waiting and retail has yet to find a floor.

Tony McGrath, Peter Anderson, Mark Korda and Mark Mentha can expect much stiffer competition. Please take a moment to support INO’s continued chronicling of the insolvency profession.

About the Author

Peter Gosnell
Insolvency News Online illuminates the practice of insolvency Australia-wide, highlighting the triumphs and travails of the nation’s registered practitioners and the accounting and legal professionals who work with them. INO is produced by Peter Gosnell, former business editor and senior business reporter at The Daily Telegraph newspaper. During a decade-long career, your correspondent reported on such notable corporate collapses as HIH, One.Tel, Westpoint and Fincorp as well as some of the nation's highest profile bankruptcies and the investigations and prosecutions arising from Australia's most notorious instances of white-collar crime.

1 Comment on "KPMG now Australia’s RL capital"

  1. Jim Johnson | 21 June 2019 at 3:03 pm | Reply

    With the ever increasing consolidation of large IP firms questions of conflict or interest and duty will become a bigger and bigger problem in what is after all a relatively small market place of Australia. It was the reason for McGrath Nicol after all leaving KPMG – at least anecdotally. How these are dealt with is going to be interesting as on large Australian administrations only a few firms will have the resolves to carry out relevant duties

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