KLegal international: The collapse of KPMG’s European dream

KPMG is still trying to recover the millions it pumped into Dutch law start-up Steins Bisschop Meijburg & Co between 1999 and 2002. The 21-partner firm was declared bankrupt in April 2002 after KPMG pulled the plug on loans…


The Netherlands
KPMG is still trying to recover the millions it pumped into Dutch law start-up Steins Bisschop Meijburg & Co between 1999 and 2002. The 21-partner firm was declared bankrupt in April 2002 after KPMG pulled the plug on loans. The accountant refused to pay lawyers’ salaries and cancelled their joint account. KPMG is still claiming E6.7m (£4.6m), while its tax arm KPMG Meijburg is claiming E1.5m (£1m).
A nine-partner KLegal firm rose from the ashes and looks better placed in the new regulatory environment as it is structurally independent of KPMG, operating a best friends relationship with the accountant and its Dutch tax arm. There is an overlap of clients of around 25 per cent.
Managing partner Rob Faasen said that the firm fully supports the proposed federation of KLegal firms.
Julia Cahill

Germany
Beiten Burkhardt looks set to conclude its exit from the group.
The firm, which only joined the network in 2001, was called KPMG Beiten Burkhardt but dropped the KPMG prefix to its name as early as January this year.
Beiten has since indicated that it would be willing to merge with another law firm or strike out on its own.
In January, the firm released a statement on its rebranding, which said: “The character of Beitens as an independent law firm will be stressed and will become clearer – an aspect which is of particular importance.”
At the time, KLegal managing partner Nick Holt said that the Beitens rebrand was merely a response to regulatory changes in the German market.
Naomi Rovnick

Italy
Studio Associato decided to adopt the KLegal brand in November 2002. However, it seems to house a mix of 260 lawyers and certified public accountants and appeared on Klegal’s website as a member of both KPMG and KLegal until it was restructured last week. It has offices in Bologna, Florence, Milan, Padua, Perugia, Rome, Turin and Verona.
Julia Cahill

France: Fidal
Jean-Louis Paul, managing partner of KLegal’s former French firm Fidal, was very clear last week that Fidal had cut all of its ties with KPMG, but said his firm would be keen to join a new, independent version.
“If they can demonstrate they’re truly independent from KPMG then we’ll join,” Paul told The Lawyer.
Post Sarbanes-Oxley, France’s legislators have been more aggressive than most. In July, the government launched a financial security law that established a financial regulator and reinforced audit/non-audit separation.
Fidal had seen it coming, and in April this year it announced its split from KPMG. Fidal posted a turnover in 2002 of E235m (£160.8m), has 20 offices across France, with 529 partners and a total fee-earners count of 1,455, The firm was established in 1922.
Steve Hoare