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April 30, 2008

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

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

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