Andersen will cease to be a Nominated Advisor (NomAd) for companies listed on the London Stock Exchanges fledgling market, the Alternative Investment Market (AIM), if the embattled Big Five firm’s proposed merger with Deloitte & Touche goes ahead. But Andersen has only just got round to discussing the implications of the merger with its AIM clients.
Andersen currently has 11 clients on its books for whom it provides advisory services as a part of the ongoing requirements of being listed on AIM.
But, according to an Andersen spokesperson, these clients will automatically become clients of D&T’s NomAd operation, Deloitte Advisory Services, after the merger.
“Andersen will join under the Deloitte & Touche name and those 11 of our AIM clients would become Deloitte’s. At the moment this is still ongoing and all of our partners are liaising with the clients and working how we can fit the two companies together,” the spokesperson says.
Robert Deri, finance director at Zoo Digital, an AIM client of Andersen Advisory Services, told us that he is sympathetic to the fact that Andersen and Deloitte have some issues to iron out. Andersen contacted Deri in May to begin discussions about their future relationship.
“The result of the conversations I have had with Andersen so far is to agree that things should currently continue as normal,” says Deri. “The key is what service we continue to get from Andersen. We won’t take any knee-jerk reaction because we need to know all the facts first.”
But Andersen’s decision on the future of its AIM clients comes only weeks before the proposed 1 July target date for its merger with Deloittes, offering companies little time to change advisor if they are not happy with the new arrangements.
For companies that wish to be masters of their own destiny (and there are around seventy NomAds to choose from) the London Stock Exchange is there to help.
The official spokesperson for the London Stock Exchange says that AIM companies considering changing NomAd as result of a merger of advisors would be treated leniently. “In general, if a NomAd was to be taken over the exchange would be quite sympathetic to clients who want to find a new NomAd. Generally companies have one month to find a new NomAd, but the Exchange would be sympathetic if companies were having real problems finding an alternative advisor,” the spokesperson said.
Deloitte & Touche is a registered NomAd and currently has two AIM clients of its own. But one AIM company finance director who prefers to remain anonymous told Financial Director that, while Andersen clients should not feel compelled to stay with Deloittes, they should consider the difficulties of making a switch in advisor.
“The tricky issue is if you want to change NomAds. Depending on your size you may or may not be attractive to other brokers and it can take some time to build up a new relationship.
But I wouldn’t be surprised if those Andersen clients hadn’t at least got a plan B in place,” he said.