Deloittes in talks with Deacons

Accountancy giant Deloitte & Touche is in talks with leading Australian practice Deacons Graham & James, The Lawyer can reveal.

The big-five accountancy firm has been eyeing up the Australian market for some time. But the two firms are understood to be on the brink of making an announcement.

Last month, the Australian top-10 practice ended its decade-long association with US firm Graham & James (The Lawyer, 24 April).

Speculation is mounting that the firm terminated the marriage in a bid to make it a more attractive proposition for prospective merger partners.

One industry insider says: “My understanding is that they have been talking for quite a while. It is a big step for Deacons, but Australian firms just are not big enough on the international stage.”

Deloittes has offices in Melbourne and Sydney. Accountancy rivals Arthur Andersen, KPMG, Ernst & Young and PricewaterhouseCoopers already have Australian legal operations.

PricewaterhouseCoopers was the latest to enter the market when it merged with the Sydney office of Dunhill Madden Butler in November.

One senior Australian lawyer believes that should the merger go through, it will be a “huge commitment. Deacons is not small by any stretch. It will be a big swallow for Deloittes”.

Deacons will drop Graham & James from its name as of 1 July. The firm has 97 partners and operations across Australia and Asia.

Deloitte & Touche and Deacons were not available for comment.