HLB International chief executive Rob Tautges
has confirmed UK member firm Vantis will shortly undergo a
corporate restructure but it is unclear exactly how this
will take shape.
The Alternative Investment Market-listed
company is due to make an announcement on its future either late
this afternoon GMT or early tomorrow.
Tautges, who has been monitoring the situation
closely for months, said details about the restructure are
confidential due to the fact Vantis is publicly-listed. He is
hopeful enough of the company remains in tact so that it may
continue to operate as a member of the mid-tier network
“A reorganisation is virtually assured but
what nature it takes we haven’t gotten final word on,” Tautges
said. “We have some great people at Vantis that have been great
contributors to HLB in the past, and it’s my view that there is a
good chance they will continue to be contributors but perhaps under
a different reorganised company.”
The Vantis reorganisation could take on
several flavours, such as a corporate takeover, or a management
buyout of some or all portions of the business.
This week the company’s training arm, PASS
Training, which provides CPD education in accounting and finance,
was acquired by SWAT UK.
It is likely that a Vantis restructure
would be a combination of a management buyout and external
“Under best circumstances, if that management
buyout ends with a sizable firm that we think would fit HLB’s
mission then we would [like them to continue membership] but that
would be evaluated after we know the facts and circumstances around
the reorganisation,” Tautges said.
A new strategy?
As is normal procedure, HLB International has
been monitoring the market for potential replacement firms should
Vantis no longer continue to serve the network. The network
confirmed it could adopt a new approach to UK coverage.
“It’s my view that HLB will come out stronger
in the UK for a number of different reasons I can’t go into detail
about right now, that’s what my speculation is at this point,”
“I think we have an opportunity to expand
geographic coverage, I think we have an opportunity to have a
collection of firms rather than have sole reliance on a publicly
Vantis speculation in the media and industry
has been rife since its shares were suspended in June and chief
executive Peter Jackson and partner Nigel Hamilton-Smith resigned
Vantis’s troubles stemmed from highly
publicised fee payment delays for insolvency work it carried out on
Stanford International Bank. This caused Vantis’s auditor Ernst
& Young to issue an emphasis of matter paragraph in its
February audit opinion.
The publicly-traded company also suffered
reputational damage for its involvement in aggressive tax schemes,
which led to the removal of guilty partners.
Vantis is the 13th largest
professional services firm in the UK. It reported revenue of £89.6m
in the year to 30 April 2009.