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Shu Lun Pan merger consolidates BDO's position in Hong Kong

1 May 2008 by Arvind Hickman

Two of the largest mid-tier firms in Hong Kong are to merge their practices in a move that firmly establishes the fifth-largest firm on the island city.

BDO McCabe Lo secured an agreement with the former Horwath International member firm Shu Lun Pan Horwath Hong Kong CPA Limited. The combined entity will operate as BDO Limited from 1 May 2009.



Albert AuBDO Limited will have more than 700 staff and generate annual fee income of about H$300 million ($38 million). Nine partners and more than 200 staff from Shu Lun Pan will join BDO while Shu Lun Pan senior partners Clement Chan and Hong Ng will join the firm’s executive board. The 10-member executive board act as the principal management body of the firm.

China’s Ministry of Finance has been encouraging large domestic firms to find global mid-tier partners that can help them expand operations abroad and eventually tackle the Big Four.

This merger follows, but is not directly related to, the defection of Horwath’s former Mainland China firm Shu Lun Pan CPAs Group to BDO International in January.

Albert Au, managing partner of BDO Hong Kong, told the International Accounting Bulletin that talks between the two entities began more than a year ago.

“We are two of the largest major accounting practices, domestically bred back in the 1980s. Obviously Hong Kong is a very small market and you know each other through professional circles,” he said.

Shu Lun Pan Hong Kong is predominantly an assurance firm with a strong portfolio of about 30 H-share listed audit clients.

“Because of that they bring with them a fairly impressive list of publicly listed clients and also clients that have a very significant presence in China,” Au added. “Our practice, on the other hand, is not just an audit firm. We also have other areas such as business services and also specialist advisory services. In this particular merger what adds to the value of the firm is greater strength to our audit and assurance side.”

Shu Lun Pan Horwath Hong Kong CPA Limited managing partner Clement Chan said there is a strong synergy between the firms.

“Their corporate values, interestingly, are very similar and compatible with ours,” he said. “Together, we will be a force to be reckoned with and it will be an excellent platform to enhance our service capabilities to our clients globally.”

The merger means BDO firms will have more than 4,000 staff in Greater China at offices in Beijing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Wuhan. The combined annual fee income of these firms is more than CNY1.2 billion ($175 million). BDO is now placed fifth in both the Hong Kong and the Greater China markets.

BDO China: Vital statistics

BDO Hong Kong

Fee income

H$300 million

Staff

700

Greater China network

Fee income

CYN1.2 billion

Staff

4,000

Offices

Beijing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Shenzen and Wuhan

Source: BDO International