Grant Thornton Ireland has merged with professional services
firm Foster McAteer as part of a strategic move to become a leader
in the corporate recovery market.

The merger adds five partners and 24 staff to Grant Thornton
Ireland. Foster McAteer’s reported fee income was €4 million ($5.9
million) in its most recent financial year. Grant Thornton said the
merger will bring the total revenue of the firm to more than €50
million and increase the workforce to 450 staff. Grant Thornton
Ireland managing partner Paul Raleigh said the mid-tier firm is now
close in size to rivals BDO Simpson Xavier, a firm that was placed
fifth in this year’s International Accounting Bulletin
Ireland survey.

Foster McAteer founding partner Brendan Foster said the move to
Grant Thornton will benefit Foster McAteer clients.

“Despite the changing economic environment many of our clients
continue to expand and the merger will enable us to increase our
depth and range of professional services,” he said. “Our enlarged
insolvency and recovery teams are ideally positioned to advise
companies and individuals during these challenging times.”

Grant Thornton’s interest in Foster McAteer, a firm in which
about 65 percent of its fee split is generated through insolvency
services, is part of a strategy to build certain specialist

Grant Thornton Ireland’s insolvency practice contributes 8
percent of the firm’s overall revenue and the Foster McAteer
addition provides valuable expertise in this growing service

“Foster McAteer has developed a very successful practice
particularly in insolvency/corporate recovery, and they were
looking for access to the brand and the ability to use their skills
in a bigger arena so that was the driver for them,” Raleigh

“For us it was clearly that we were adding in on top of our own
corporate recovery ability by taking in Foster McAteer and we are
now the leaders in the corporate recovery market. Our strategy is
to build market leadership in niche areas like corporate recovery.
Business risk is another area we are keen on developing, which is
going very well for us.”

Raleigh admitted that Ireland’s economic slowdown, partly due to
the credit crunch, is having an impact on the professional services
market. He highlights three important objectives that will help the
firm prosper in trying times.

“One is growing for development as opposed to growth for
growth’s sake. Second is clearly operating as a specialist rather
than a generalist and the third thing is operating as part of a
successful international network,” he said.

“The market here is certainly different from what it was in
2007. It’s more difficult in economic terms. We have got a very
well balanced practice, we have a strong audit and tax side, which
gives us 60 percent of our income and is compliance-based.

“In that respect, we are not so dependant on the specialist
assignments as some firms are, however, we are not going to be
immune to the economic slowdown either. We will be watching our
costs and do all of the things that you would expect to do in an
economic slowdown.”

Raleigh said the firm has no other merger and acquisition
targets right now but they are keeping an eye on the market.