Interpath Advisory, a UK-based corporate restructuring and insolvency firm, is planning to build up a practice in the Republic with 120 staff within the next three to four years after poaching six partners from KPMG and Deloitte in Ireland.
Blair Nimmo, chief executive of Interpath Advisory, told The Irish Times that the firm aims to start with "boots on the ground" in the Republic from June, and gradually develop a team of 30-40 within 12 months. He confirmed that talks in recent months to buy out Deloitte Ireland's insolvency unit came to nothing.
“We want to build a market-leading restructuring business in Ireland,” Mr Nimmo said. “But the second part of our strategy is to develop other advisory services. These include areas like forensic accounting, valuations, debt advisory and maybe other services in relation to aviation and shared services.”
Interpath Advisory was established in May last year as KPMG in the UK sold its corporate restructuring business to private-equity firm HIG Capital for more than £350 million (€414m). The sale allowed the restructuring business to continue to win work from the Big Four firm’s audit clients as it removed the risk of conflicts of interests at a time of heightened regulatory oversight of the sector.
It emerged in early February that KPMG Ireland partners Kieran Wallace and Eamonn Richardson, best known as the joint liquidators of Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), and Deloitte Ireland partners Ken Fennell, Mark Degnan and James Anderson had handed in their notice and planned to join forces to set up an Irish arm of Interpath.
Mr Nimmo also said that a sixth individual, KPMG insolvency practitioner Andrew O'Leary, is joining the new outfit, becoming its first senior employee in June. The other men are currently scheduled to join between January and April of next year. The plan is to have the main office in Dublin, with other initial locations in Belfast and Cork, he said. Mr Fennell and Mr Wallace will ultimately lead the Irish operation.
“We’re not going to wait for the main people to start building teams. We’re going to start to do that fairly soon” Mr Nimmo said. “We are speaking to people who have been coming to us, wondering about what we’re doing and expressing an interest in getting involved.”
There has been speculation in the industry that individuals from KPMG Ireland’s 120-strong restructuring and forensics unit and Deloitte Ireland’s restructuring division, which employs about 60, may also end up in Interpath Advisory Ireland. However, Mr Nimmo declined to comment on this.
A widely-predicted global surge in business collapses at the outset of the pandemic two years’ ago has so far failed to materialise because of unprecedented levels of Government supports for companies and households during the worst of the crisis.
PwC Ireland said earlier this month that Irish business failure rates, at 15 per 10,000 companies over the 12 months through March, were at lows not seen since 2005 or 2006. The firm estimates that more than 4,500 businesses were saved from going bust primarily as a result of the Government's Covid-19 supports, with a number of these businesses essentially being put on life-support.
“We’ve all been crystal ball gazing since Covid hit in March 2020,” said Mr Nimmo. “But most people we talk to are saying that there’s going to be an uptick somewhere between Q3 (the third quarter) of this calendar year and Q1 of next year.”
Any outstanding examinership and liquidation cases that the exiting KPMG Ireland and Deloitte Ireland partners are involved in are expected to move with them to the new practice, as they are court-appointed officials in each instance.
“We would hope to have a discussion with Deloitte and KPMG around that,” said Mr Nimmo. “Has there been any detailed work on that so far? No, there hasn’t.”