Troubled Birmingham accountants Wenham Major, which last week entered administration, appears to have been sold off to RSM Bentley Jennison for an undisclosed sum.
Administrator Vantis was called in on Wednesday following a meeting between Wenham Major and its bank HBOS. The meeting came a week after an announcement that financial irregularities had been discovered at the Wenham Major Private Client subsidiary.
The deal with Jennison is believed to have been signed late on Friday and sees the company take over Wenham Major’s central audit and accounting business together with the tax compliance practice.
It is thought that other potential suitors were interested in the business but in the end the deal was secured by Jennison using money held in its reserves.
No confirmation has been given on what will happen to Wenham Major’s staff but reports suggested they were being relocated from their offices in Cornwall Street to Jennison’s base in Legge Street.
Jennison’s managing partner Tony Stockdale was quoted in Accountancy Age magazine as saying: "The core business is a strong business. Whatever happened was a matter for the other parts of the business."
Jennison is anxious to calm the nerves of Wenham Major clients and is moving quickly to reassure them over what has happened.
It is thought that Wenham Major Private Client has effectively ceased trading and the seven staff employed there have left.
According to Accountancy Age, six entities relating to Wenham Major entered administration with Vantis: Wenham Major Global Capital Parnters and Cornwall Street Property, Wenham Major (the core audit accounting and tax compliance practice), Wenham Major Private Client and two non trading companies Abbey Specialised Solutions and Wenham Major Business Services.
A further two companies - listed at the same Cornwall Street address - Wenham Major Wealth Management and Wenham Major Global Trusted Advisors have not been involved in the administration. An investigation was launched into the alleged "financial irregularities" at a subsidiary of the firm earlier this month.
The practice, jointly owned by Ammar Azam and John Joyce, revealed at the beginning of the month that it was conducting an inquiry into its private client tax planning operation run by executive chairman Mr Joyce, who is a well-known figure in the city’s accountancy sector.
He has been unavailable for comment during the past fortnight and it is thought he may be in hospital suffering with a stress-related complaint.
Mr Azam is thought to be in the Middle East although he is thought to be returning to the UK later this week.
The inquiry was said to be internal and was being conducted with the help of lawyers and forensic accountants. Neither the police nor accountancy regulators were involved at that stage.
Wenham Major Global Capital Partners, was one of the largest and oldest accountancy practices in the country. Last year it celebrated its 140th anniversary.
The firm was also named as Fastest Growing Firm of Accountants in the UK for the second year running in the Accountancy Age league tables.