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IN SHORT

Andersen joins E & Y in central Europe

Accounting giant Andersen announced on April 24 it was merging its operations in much of central Europe with smaller rival Ernst & Young. The deal follows the recent breakdown of regional merger talks between Andersen and KPMG.

Andersen also recently teamed up with Ernst & Young in Poland, the region's biggest accountancy and services market.

Andersen, reeling from its indictment for its role as auditor to collapsed US energy trader Enron, has been breaking up around the world, forging regional deals with rival accountancy firms.

Andersen and Ernst & Young said jointly they hoped to be fully integrated and operational by the end of June in Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Croatia, Slovenia, Romania and Bulgaria.

"The agreement will allow the combined firm to build on the proven strength of the two organisations, giving clients access to unparalleled expertise in key industries and service lines," said Herbert Mueller, Ernst & Young's managing partner for central Europe.

Paul Antrobus, his opposite number at Andersen, said the move was "the optimal solution".

The Czech, Slovak and Hungarian firms belonging to Andersen Legal, Andersen's international group of law firms, said they were also discussing a merger with the law firms associated with Ernst & Young.

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