Dutch partners vote against KPMG
Europe merger as new leadership is unveiled

KPMG partners in the Netherlands have narrowly voted against
joining KPMG member firms in Germany, the UK and Switzerland to
form a European firm.

At a vote of 206 partners held this week, 135 voted in favour of
the proposed merger, 68 voted against and three abstained. This
means the vote was just one partner short of the two-thirds
majority required by law.

KPMG Netherlands president Ben van der Veer commented: “Although we
are not ready at this moment for full integration of the Dutch firm
into KPMG Europe, all of the intensive co-operation in commercial
and operational [matters] will be continued without any
restriction… Because our integrated service to our international
operating clients demands such cross-border co-operation.”

Critics of the proposed deal have expressed, in the Dutch media,
concerns about perceived cultural differences that may arise
between the corporate cultures of the European partners and their
British counterparts. IAB understands such reservations
are not directed towards the UK member firm of KPMG, which works
closely with its Dutch counterpart; rather, it is a general
wariness within the wider business community, shaped by bad
experiences of Dutch companies that have merged with UK companies
in the past. One example regularly cited in the Dutch press was the
largely troubled 1999 Dutch-Anglo combination between British Steel
and Netherlands company Hoogovens.

At the same meeting, the firm revealed its strategic plan will
focus on investment in people, markets and quality. The firm also
unveiled to partners several key leadership positions. Board member
Herman Dijkhuizen will take over as KPMG Netherlands president from
October 2008 when van der Veer is due to step down.

The board also revealed that Jurgen van Breukelen is to become the
firm’s international activism merger adviser, responsible for all
advisory activities. CFO Jaap van Everdingen has been reaffirmed
for another four years.

The board will soon meet to discuss the direction of the firm,
including any future plans to join the KPMG Europe firm.

Arvind Hickman