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Big five accountant Deloitte & Touche is putting the final touches to a merger with an Australian firm, says a source close the deal.
The accountant has offices in Sydney and Melbourne, but unlike most of its rivals, it does not have an Australian legal arm.
One accountancy insider says: "I had heard that Australia was coming on board at the end of January. It has missed that, but something is definitely happening."
Arthur Andersen, KPMG and Ernst & Young all have legal operations in Australia.
PricewaterhouseCoopers was the latest to enter the market when it poached the Sydney practice of Dunhill Madden in November last year.
One senior Australian lawyer believes firms likely to be interested in forming an alliance with Deloittes include the Dunhill practices in Melbourne, Brisbane and Canberra, as well as Phillips Fox and Corrs Chambers Westgarth.
But accountants have not always had an easy ride in Australia.
Last year, Andersen Legal was rocked by the departure of founding and managing partner Phil Kapp who claimed to be "disillusioned" with the practice (The Lawyer, 18 October).
Deloitte & Touche refuses to comment on any plans it has to enter the Australian market.