Deloitte Announces First of What May be Many Mergers in China

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Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu International has announced a merger with one of China's largest accounting firms, and said it hopes to employ 8,000 people in China by the end of the year.

The rapid growth of China's economy - at more than 9 percent each year - and the desire of Chinese companies to expand globally is creating huge potential for Deloitte, Peter Bowie, Deloitte China's chief executive, told Dow Jones Newswires.

Deloitte has quadrupled its presence in China over the last two and a half years, and plans to invest $150 million in China during the next few years. Two-thirds of that money will go toward buying other companies and hiring local accountants, Bowie said.

"No one knows how big China's market is, but the potential is enormous," Bowie said in his announcement of the merger with Beijing Pan-China, which has 300 employees. Pan-China Managing Director James Chen said the company will gain experience in international accounting practices and preparing public offerings in the U.S. and Hong Kong.

The merger is expected to take effect June 1.

Deloitte hopes to offer tax preparation services and help with overseas listings, which Bowie predicted could be big business for Deloitte. He estimated that Deloitte China may be able to prepare 500 public listings for China companies, especially in telecommunications, insurance, airlines and banks, in Hong Kong and New York during the next five years.

Deloitte employees now number 3,200 in eight offices across the country. Bowie expects to hire another 4,000 to 5,000 people and increase revenue four to five times.

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