PwC Veltins pushes for German merger

In the latest twist in the tale of the German accountancy-tied law firms, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) is trying to merge PwC Veltins with its other lesser-known associated law firm Schindhelm.
Last year the management of Schindhelm rebutted a merger plan from PwC as not in the firm’s interest, but it is understood that key figures at PwC are still trying for the merger.
Sources in Germany say PwC does not want to formulate a post-Sarbanes-Oxley policy to deal with two law firms and wants to merge them for a one-size-fits-all solution. PwC’s German law firm Schultze & Braun was spun off three months ago.
Schindhelm, a rated Mittelstand practice, has a different profile to Veltins, which tends to deal with bigger, often Securities and Exchange Commission-registered clients and cross-border deals. Based in Osnabruck, 50-lawyer Schindhelm works closely with PwC and has already opened three new offices in the past year on the back of PwC’s local audit client base.
Schindhelm partner Heiko Hellwege said: “We don’t see that a merger makes sense at the moment.”
Hellwege said that his firm is not affected by Sarbanes-Oxley because its client base is in the Mittelstand.
He added that he believes German domestic regulations on multidisciplinary partnerships will accommodate the expectations of Mittelstand firms.
Meanwhile, Veltins has yet to make a decision on its future relationship with PwC. New managing partner Thomas Kerkoff said the firm would become independent from PwC, but still loosely allied to the accountants.