Beijing mulls having own accounting giant

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 April, 2008, 12:00am

A new accounting firm may well be born in China, with the country wanting to establish its own tailor-made accountancy giant for its economic needs.

While there are many homegrown accounting companies on the mainland, their size is not sufficient to allow them to compete with the big international firms.

Some veteran accountants are now advising the mainland authorities on how to build their own giant. The firm, of course, must be led by a strong team of accountants with international experience for it to gain recognition in the global finance market.

The advisers say one way would be for Beijing to set up a new firm and headhunt Chinese partners from the so-called Big Four firms to join the team. The Big Four are PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu and KPMG.

Another method would be to allow a mainland accounting firm to acquire a second-tier international accounting firm, just below the Big Four, which could then be merged with other companies.

'The Big Four and other accounting firms are all eyeing the mainland market,' said one source, who is advising the mainland government on the plan. 'Why shouldn't China build up its own local brand?'

But a big mainland firm would still face a lot of challenges, including whether senior partners from the Big Four would be prepared to jump ship to the newly established company.

And even if the homegrown firm did beat the Big Four in attracting domestic clients, it would take time for international investors to accept a new brand in the market. So in other words, such a firm may well be a good idea, but like Rome it will not be built in one day.

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The company's real-time market surveillance system has been adopted by many leading European investment banks and the Financial Services Authority in Britain. In Asia, it has had a presence in Hong Kong and Singapore since 2006.

Mr Bates founded Progress Apama at the time of the dotcom boom in 1999 and in 2005 it was acquired by Progress Software Corp.

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