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September 29, 2008

Weisbaum to steer BDO Seidman through challenging times

BDO Seidman chief executive Jack Weisbaum has been re-appointed to the top job for another term.

Weisbaum, 68, has more than 40 years of experience in public accounting and boasts an impressive record as leader. On his watch, BDO Seidman grew 81 percent in four years – a result he puts down to the firm’s ability to pick up former Big Four clients as Sarbanes-Oxley requirements took effect.

During Weisbaum’s past term, the firm had been embroiled in a legal battle with the investors of Miami financial services company Bankest. A jury found the firm grossly negligent in failing to detect a fraud that led to the bankruptcy of Bankest. In 2007, the Miami-Dade Circuit Court ordered the firm to pay $521 million in punitive and compensatory damages.

BDO Seidman has challenged the ruling and Weisbaum remains confident about the prospects of an appeal that is currently before the courts. The firm said it has a strong history of overturning lower court jury verdicts on appeal.

“Both our clients, staff and partners are very sure that we will get the appropriate treatment when this appeal is heard and that in the end it will not be anything we will have to be overly concerned about,” Weisbaum said. “Not to negate it, it is not going to go away but you do not grow the way we have grown and attract the clients we have if anyone really puts any faith in the ruling.”

If BDO Seidman’s recent financial results are anything to go by it appears the market is confident of BDO’s position. The firm’s revenue grew a respectable 12 percent to $659 million in the year ended 30 June 2008. This growth was fuelled by the BDO Consulting practice, which grew in revenue by a staggering 85 percent.

For Weisbaum it’s business as usual as he reveals plans of further investment in new talent and services to continue to position the firm as the logical alternative to the Big Four.

“As we have shown with the BDO consulting practice and tax service lines, we are going to continue to invest in new service capabilities when we see the demand for these offerings,” he said.

“We are looking to grow organically but we have our eyes open to possible mergers or alliances that could possibly supplement our organic growth and move us into new markets and services.”

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