Southeast Merger Creates New Top 35 Firm

Three Leading Edge Alliance (LEA)-member firms, Birmingham, Ala.-based Warren, Averett, Kimbrough & Marino, (FY11 net revenue of $40.4 million – No. 70 on IPA’s 100 list) Wilson, Price, Barranco, Blankenship & Billingsley, (FY10 net revenue of $19.4 million) of Montgomery, Ala., and Pensacola, Fla.-based O’Sullivan Creel (FY11 net revenue of ($18.9 million) joined forces effective Jan. 1.

The combined firms will operate under the holding company of Warren Averett, LLC (WA). With more than 550 team members and 12 offices, WA will rank among the top 35 firms in the nation and in the Top 5 in the Southeast, behind Enterprise, Ala. Carr Riggs & Ingram (FY10 net revenue of $85.9 million).

James Cunningham will serve as CEO of WA and continue to serve as CEO and MP of WAK&M. Wilson, Price, Barranco, Blankenship & Billingsley will operate as Warren Averett Wilson Price with Charles Jordan and Richard Stabler, maintaining their role as Co-MPs. O’Sullivan Creel will operate as Warren Averett O’Sullivan Creel with current MP Mort O’Sullivan continuing as MP.

“The strategic move to combine Alabama’s largest firm, one of Montgomery’s most prestigious firms and a significant, regional Gulf Coast firm creates tremendous opportunity for all involved,” says Cunningham. “The joint resources and expertise resulting from this move will enable us to draw from the best and brightest talent and experience to effectively serve each client.”

“All three firms are members of The Leading Edge Alliance, and through that affiliation, we have grown to respect one another and were encouraged by our similarities in our culture, clients and commitment to client service,” says O’Sullivan. “I’ve been in this profession for 38 years and I’ve not seen anything as exciting as what we are undertaking today.”

“When we look at the state of the industry, we recognize that many of our clients are becoming more complex and sophisticated. Many are multi-national, multi-state and multi-line of business, which calls for specialized, more strategic accounting services. This merger allows us to provide the best of these services,” says Stabler.

Allan D. Koltin, CEO of Koltin Consulting Group, who provided counsel to the firms on the merger commented, “Three-way mergers are rare in the profession, especially when they involve such large firms as these. Having said that, each one was a “best in breed” firm in their respective markets and that will go a long way toward making this a successful combination well into the future. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this turn into a $250 million firm with offices in the entire southeast, including Atlanta, New Orleans, Tampa, Mobile, and Orlando.  The leadership at the three firms is exceptional and I think that will go a long way toward making for a successful integration. It was fascinating to see how many things the firms already had in common due to their deep and long relationship in the LEA.