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April 20, 2016

Key Will Group and Abacus merger bid: Member firms say management disregard transparency

By Vincent Huck

Key Will Group member firms have criticised management’s lack of transparency over a possible merger with Abacus, International Accounting Bulletin has learnt.

Key Will Group, a Chinese headquartered association, had gone mute in the course of 2014 but as revealed by International Accounting Bulletin in June of last year, the member firms had started efforts to revive the group.

In June 2015, Key Will Group chairman, and one of its founders, Alex Chu had resigned effective 30 June 2015, for personal reasons. Mancy Chan, formerly registrar of membership of the association, had taken the interim chairmanship.

In March 2016, Chan communicated to the membership that Key Will Group was to merge with Abacus and rebrand into Abacus Key Will. The rebrand was to happen in April, and the merger to be signed officially in May, Chan communicated to member firms.

However Key Will Group members have responded to the announcement criticising the lack of communication and transparency as they hadn’t been concerted on the merger. Some raised their concern that Abacus would become the dominant force in the partnership and that smaller Key Will Group members wouldn’t receive referrals.

Several member firms leaders have expressed their interest to continue working together and as such have called on other member firms interested to get in touch in order to explore other options.

Abacus on the other hand have opposed the idea that any merger was underway. "Abacus was approached by Key Will and entertained a preliminary conversation regarding a merger or block recruitment. Potential proposals were exchanged between leadership of both groups, however no real decision to merge was ever agreed," Abacus CEO Julio Gabay told International Accounting Bulletin."Ultimately, Abacus leadership took the time to research Key Will members, and based on initial findings, we were not convinced that a majority of Key Will members would have met the size and scope requirements of membership in Abacus. Therefore, Abacus leadership decided to cease the discussion with Key Will."

Abacus is open to bringing in the right group as a merger or block recruitment and is researching potential candidates, Gabay continued. "However, we have developed key strategic initiatives for growth and development; meaning that whoever it is that we choose to work with must match our culture as well as complement and enhance Abacus Worldwide."

Chan told International Accounting Bulletin: "I have already turned down merge with Abacus because every member firms are a part of Key Will Group, I must accept and agree their responses. Therefore, we are continuously processing to revive our Key Will Group."


Updated 21/04/2016: Key Will Group interim chairman Mancy Chan’s response was added to the original story.

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