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July 31, 2008

Baker Tilly firm finalises Sri Lankan expansion

Baker Tilly Merali’s, a firm that operates in Kenya, Zambia and the United Arab Emirates, has established a new firm in Sri Lanka.

The three-partner firm will offer audit, accountancy, taxation, financial advisory and management consultancy services.

The addition of the new Sri Lankan practice grows Baker Tilly Merali’s total workforce to about 250 staff, including 15 partners. The firm predicted its fee income in the 2008 financial year should reach about £2.5 million ($4.9 million).

Chief executive PK Merali said the main reason for entering Sri Lanka is to service a strong public-sector base. He also said the move was inevitable due to current work interests there.

“We have a very strong tax base in Sri Lanka. We are already servicing from the UK some rather large Sri Lankan clients whose interests are outside Sri Lanka and they are very happy with us,” he added.

“The country has good growth areas, not only in the private sector but also in large family businesses.

“One of the biggest reasons for our choice is because the manager of the firm worked with me in the 1980s. We have always made sure that we have kept in touch with the managers and we work in assignments with each other.

“We never just go blindly and always insist on having an association with somebody first.”

Merali said the firm sent its Sri Lankan partners to train at the Baker Tilly International base in London. The move was only finalised once a certain standard had been reached by partners.

“We actually sent our team to Sri Lanka twice to train the staff there also,” he added.

Baker Tilly Merali’s plans to expand into other regions, including the Middle East and Uganda. According to Merali, there is a lot of growth potential in the Middle East beyond Dubai, where the firm already has a presence. He said many existing clients are based in Uganda, so establishing a presence there would be a sensible choice.

The firm also hopes to establish a ‘sub-network’ outside of Baker Tilly International. Merali explained that the organisation at present consists of a number of branches without a particular network.

“What we want, wherever we are going, is for there to be a common association [to the firm’s brand],” he said.

Another highlight for the firm in the past year was the Kenyan branch securing internal audit work for the Kenyan government.

“This is something that has never been heard of outside the Big Four,” Merali said. “We are extremely proud of our whole practice and I am sure the addition of Sri Lanka will continue to reap many more opportunities.”

Melanie White and Carolyn Canham

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