Ernst & Young has announced the proposed merger of all of its 87 country practices in Western and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, India and Africa.

(The new area will be called EMEIA, proving once again the accountancy profession’s obsession with acronyms.)

Consolidation has been a feature of the industry for the past couple of years at a grass roots and international level. The networks have been slowly but steadily merging their country member firms into singular units but this is by far and away the most ambitious plan to date.

E&Y says the EMEIA area will operate as a single unit with a single executive team and "where allowed by laws and regulations, be underscored by formal combinations of practices”. It will be a £11.2bn organisation with more than 60,000 people working under the watchful eye of E&Y UK chairman Mark Otty (the South Africa-born marathon enthusiast), who is the proposed managing partner.

E&Y chairman and CEO Jim Turley says the introduction of the European 8th Directive, which supported the closer integration of European firms, “enabled us to accelerate our thinking around our globalisation plans”.

He adds: “EMEIA integration will have many benefits. Our clients want us to mirror the way they behave in these markets and to have access to bigger and more experienced teams.

"Our people want and expect us to operate across borders and cultures with the increased client experience, career diversity and mobility that will bring. And we want to improve our operational effectiveness.”

If its formation is approved by the 3,300 partners in the affected firms at the end of May, E&Y EMEIA will be the closest we’ll have to a truly global accountancy firm.

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