KPMG expands worldwide network with NZ alliance

Accountancy giant KPMG is merging with New Zealand law firm Kensington Swan as it begins integrating its fragmented global network.

The merger with the 43-partner New Zealand commercial firm – which has offices in Auckland and Wellington – was approved last week and will take place on 1 July.

As part of the deal, Kensington Swan is sacrificing its name to become KPMG Legal.

KPMG’s New Zealand legal arm will have approximately 250 staff. But the firms will operate as separate profit centres because New Zealand does not allow multidisciplinary partnerships (MDPs).

KPMG chairman Alan Isaac says that the firms have a close working relationship and share a number of clients.

Denham Shale, chairman at Kensington Swan, says: “This is a far-sighted approach, which will establish the firm as a leader in the professional services field.

“We are confident that the law in New Zealand preventing accounting and legal firms from joining will soon be amended.”

The merger has been agreed as KPMG begins integrating its legal network under the banner of KLegal International, which will see the number of members go from six to 50.

Jean-Louis Paul, chairman of KLegal International, says: “Membership requires the implementation of common standards and business models to give rise to a uniform quality of advice.”

He says that the integration will be “the culmination of the development of law as a core service for KPMG outside North America” where regulatory restrictions bar the firm from offering legal services.

KPMG has an association with Morrison & Foerster in the US.

Paul adds that 1,800 KPMG law-yers will join the global network as the firm integrates its legal services.

The six initial members of KLegal International are KPMG Legal (Australia), Fidal (France), Wildgen Spielmann Metzler & Ries (Luxembourg), Steins Bisschop Meijburg & Co (The Netherlands), KPMG Abogados (Spain) and KLegal (UK).