EisnerAmper LLP Launches New Chapter In The History of Two Northeast Powerhouse Firms

As reported in mid-August, IPA Top 100 New York-based Eisner LLP (FY10 net revenue of $134.7 million) and IPA Top 100 Edison, N.J.-based Amper Politziner & Mattia LLP (FY10 net revenue of $114.2 million) combined forces and opened the doors as EisnerAmper LLP. The resulting entity is a $250 million firm, with more than 1,200 staff and 170 partners serving locations in New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia and the Cayman Islands.

“We’ve known each other a long time – as tough competitors and through our affiliation with Baker Tilly International,” (BTI) Howard Cohen, MP of APM and the new Chairman of EisnerAmper, tells IPA.

“We’ve had informal conversations for years, but when we sat down together last summer to look at this seriously, it was a natural fit,” adds Charly Weinstein, MP of Eisner and the new CEO of EisnerAmper. “September 2nd, the date of our initial meeting, happens to be the birthday of two of the founders of APM so there was a bit of karma involved in us getting together.”

Both firms have experienced primarily organic growth over the years, with Eisner never having merged a firm and APM completing just two mergers since 1965. This is truly a combination of like-sized firms – Eisner, No. 24 on the recently released IPA Top 100, and No. 27 APM – combine to form the 13th largest firm in the U.S. “We both felt that we would be individually successful executing our respective strategic plans over the next couple of years,” says Cohen. “This combination is about setting the firm up for long-term success,” he adds.

Partners in both firms were informed about the proposal in May 2010; after overwhelming approval from both sides, integration teams started working together to address all aspects of bringing two firms of this size together. In mid-August, APM’s Manhattan office staff moved in to Eisner’s mid-town facilities, and Eisner’s New Jersey office moved in to APM’s location. Positive staff reaction to the combination has brought a lot of affirmation to both Cohen and Weinstein. “We’ve already had staff members asking about building a buddy system to help the two firms become one,” Weinstein says.

Geographically, this combination gives the firm a strong presence in the Northeast. “We’re not actively looking beyond our geography,” Cohen says, but the door is open to possibilities elsewhere – especially in Boston or Washington, D.C.

Weinstein says, “We’re not looking to become a national firm with offices all over the country, but to the extent we have strong niche practices, we want them to be national niche practices.” He adds that they would continue to seek ways to build their niches in enterprise risk management, mergers and acquisitions, business and asset valuation, debt financing, internal audit, forensic accounting and litigation consulting, reorganization and insolvency, and international expansion.

Allan Koltin, CEO of PDI Global, Inc., consultant to both firms on the merger, commented, “If this were the Harvard Business School, they would highlight this merger to illustrate successful strategies for merging. Amper wanted to be bigger in New York and Eisner wanted greater market share in New Jersey and Philadelphia.” Koltin adds, “Eisner can offer some of Amper’s niches … and Amper can offer some of Eisner’s niches … in their respective markets (and to existing clients) the day after the merger.”

The combined firm will be the largest member of PKF North America, the association that Eisner joined last year after enjoying a long relationship with BTI.

With the New York/New Jersey marketplace being so competitive, IPA would not be surprised if other firms are seeking to build a similar mega-merger. Neither Cohen nor Weinstein were aware [or kept hush] of any current discussions between large New York firms, but indicated that everyone is keeping conversations pretty close to the vest.