Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Ernst & Young Leads Africa Expansion

Global accounting giant Ernst & Young says it expects rapid business growth in Africa with its initiative to expand the firm’s practices across the continent.

The African Investment Programme is intended to grow the firm’s practices in Africa both in terms of revenue and resources over the next three years.

Philip Hourquebie, CEO of Ernst & Young Africa, said: “It is a quantum leap aimed to confirm Ernst & Young as a market leading African firm.

“We have the support and backing of the global firm.”

Ernst & Young Sub-Saharan Africa achieved revenue of nearly 270m for the 53 weeks to July 3 last year, amounting to 18% growth in local currency terms.

The African Investment Programme comes in the wake of Ernst & Young’s successful integration into one area in 2008 of 87 countries from across Europe, the Middle East, India and Africa into one unit.

That move was seen as one of the biggest changes in the professional services industry since the demise of accounting firm Arthur Andersen.

Rivals PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte and KPMG have not yet come up with their full integration plans or devised alternative plans to fully interpret their business across geographies.

Jim Turley, global chairman and CEO of Ernst & Young, said that continued growth on the African continent would create “needs and opportunities for our services”.

Assurance and tax services led the service-line growth in SA, achieving a 20% revenue increase, reflecting the firm’s involvement in some of the largest deals over the period.

Turley said the firm was investing aggressively in human resources to back up its ambitious business plans.

Other accounting firms had put on hold plans to recruit as a result of the economic slowdown, but “we have continued to recruit”, he said.

Hourquebie said the African Investment Programme would be three-pronged.

First, the firm would be prioritising its investment in financial services, public and utilities sectors.

“We also need to focus attention on the oil and gas, mining and metals, and the telecommunications sectors,” he said.

Second, in terms of geographies, the firm would be investing in expanding its growth in Nigeria, west Africa, Angola and SA, he said. As Zimbabwe stabilised, the investments would be made in that practice.

“Lastly, our advisory, transactions and tax service lines would be the primary beneficiaries of the investment with limited attention going to our assurance service line,” Hourquebie said.