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Fri, Mar 29, 2002 - Page 21 News List

Sydney office taken over

BLOOMBERG , SYDNEY

Ernst & Young Australia agreed to take over Arthur Andersen Australia, eclipsing earlier attempts by rivals KPMG and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu to acquire the Sydney-based affiliate of failed Enron Corp's auditor.

The Andersen name will disappear after the takeover, which will form the nation's second-largest accountant after the local unit of PricewaterCoopers LLP, the two firms said. The new firm will be called Ernst & Young Australia and led by its current chief executive officer, Brian Schwartz.

"As we look toward integration and the busy audit season, we'll need all the bodies available," Schwarz said. Financial terms of the takeover weren't disclosed.

Thirteen Andersen Worldwide partnerships in the Asia Pacific had earlier agreed to merge with KPMG. The united front has shown signs of crumbling as Australia, New Zealand, China and Hong Kong decided to join other firms.

Andersen affiliates outside the US are joining rivals on concerns the firm may not survive client defections and lawsuits over its role as auditor to Enron Corp. Andersen faces charges of obstructing justice for shredding documents related to its audit of Enron, which filed the biggest US bankruptcy in December.

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