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April 30, 2008

Moores Rowland South Africa firm joins Mazars Group

Moores Rowland South Africa firm joins Mazars Group

A large chunk of the former Moores Rowland International (MRI) member firm in South Africa has joined Mazars Group, greatly enhancing the globally integrated firm’s coverage in Africa.

The merger adds 320 professionals, including 21 partners, and fee income of about €11 million ($15 million) to the Mazars Group. Offices in Johannesburg, Durban and Paarl have joined, representing a significant slice of the MRI firm, although several other MRI offices that have not yet joined are considering a move in the near future.

The combined entity will operate under the name Mazars Moores Rowland and represents the first step of an ambitious plan to become the fifth-largest firm in South Africa. According to the recent IAB South Africa survey (see IAB 415), Mazars Moores Rowland’s fee income of €11 million would place it as the tenth-largest firm overall.

Mazars Moores Rowland is the group’s first official member firm in the country, although the two parties have been working together on international assignments for a number of years. Once it became clear last year that the Moores Rowland International network was disbanding to form Praxity, Mazars Group president Patrick de Cambourg told IAB, discussions between the group and the MRI firm began. Mazars is a founding member of the Praxity alliance and already works closely with several other former Moores Rowland International firms across the world.

de Cambourg said: “We knew that the quality of the work was good and we also had invited some of them to attend our conferences for them to understand how we operate. We developed a common vision of the international scene and in particular of South Africa. This is step one and it is a very important one – we have a very good group of partners and an excellent senior partner in Hilton Saven.”

Top five Mazars Moores Rowland harbours ambitions to grow the firm even further and become part of the top five in the country. This will involve a combination of merging the rest of the former MRI offices, seeking acquisitions from other networks and growing organically.

de Cambourg explained: “The next steps are the other Moores Rowland firms in South Africa, including Pretoria, Durban, Bloemfoentein and Port Elizabeth. They are fully aware that the other firms have taken the name of Mazars Moores Rowland… and they have also taken a decision in principle to join the band in the 12 months to come.”

If the additional offices do join Mazars, it will boost total staff numbers in South Africa to 500 professionals and fee income to about €17 million.

Senior partner Hilton Saven said joining Mazars would enhance the firm’s service to clients as well as provide international training and opportunities for staff. “It gives us access to resources, technical expertise and people development initiatives which will enable us to further extend our capabilities. We believe the appeal of this will further develop our pool of potential managers and partners,” he said.

African expansion Across Africa, Mazars has a presence in several French-speaking countries such as Morocco, Tunisia, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Madagascar and Benin. The group said it recently added the fifth-largest firm in Egypt and there are plans to expand into Congo, Gabon and Algeria.

Also in the pipeline, de Cambourg added, is a possible move for three firms in southern countries.

“The South African firm has a long-standing relationship with three firms in southern Africa, in Lesotho, Botswana and Zambia,” explained de Cambourg. “So the door is open to them to join the integrated approach in this part of the world. We are talking about an additional 200 to 300 people. Africa is sometimes a continent that is considered as going through a difficult period of time but we prefer to consider the medium to long term. They are very good people, very good firms and very good businesses there. Obviously, South Africa [is] a pivot for the Mazars development in the southern part of this continent.”

Africa is one of three regions the group has earmarked for significant expansion in its current global strategic plan, the others being Asia-Pacific and Latin America. Globally, de Cambourg estimates, Mazars has grown about 20 percent in terms of fee income in the past year. Staff numbers have risen from 5,600 to 8,500 in the same period.

Arvind Hickman

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