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Published 15 February 2013 11:09, Updated 21 February 2013 08:13
Geoff Allen will stay on as senior associates after his firm, Allen Consulting Group, mergers with ACIL Tasman. Photo: Bohdan Warchomij
Pioneer consultancies Allen Consulting Group and ACIL Tasman are joining forces to create a major independent advisory firm in a market of rising merger activity.
The deal would create the biggest independent economics and public policy consultancy in Australia, the firms said. ACIL Allen Consulting would start operating on April 1.
ACIL chief executive Paul Hyslop said the firms had been in talks for six months. The merger was not about cutting staff or “belt tightening”, but an attempt to form a leading consultancy that drew on their mutual strengths. “There has been a lot of consolidation in the industry and this certainly positions us better,” he said.
Among the recent tie-ups are accounting firm Deloitte’s purchase of Access Economics and SAHA International.
ACIL and Allen, along with Deloitte Access Economics, are among the pillars of Australia’s economic and policy consulting firms that came to prominence in the 1980s with the reforms of the Hawke and Keating governments.
Their early role was to advise industry in dealing with the shift to more economically rational, market-based policies. But as their expertise and reputations grew, they also became significant advisers to government.
Mr Hyslop will become the new chief executive and Allen’s founder Geoff Allen and former chairman Vince FitzGerald will stay on as senior associates. Mr Allen, who was also the co-founder of the Business Council of Australia, said his firm has had “most of the large accounting firms knocking on our door” but it wanted to remain independent.
“We have both clung to being Australian owned and owner led, so the ownership of the business is with the consultants themselves,” Mr Allen said.
The merged firm will retain its ownership structure, which has employees as its shareholders.
ACIL Allen will have about 90 consultants in offices in Australia and Hong Kong. They will merge their existing offices in Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra.
ACIL advises in the energy, infrastructure and transport sectors, whereas Allen has a strength in education, aged care and indigenous affairs.
Among ACIL’s recent work has been advice to the NSW government on the sale of its $3 billion electricity generators, while Allen has completed analysis of the potential tax payable by Crown Ltd if it were to gain a second casino licence for Barangaroo.
This story first appeared on The Australian Financial Review.