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Laventhol Office May Join With BDO Seidman

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The local office of foundering accounting giant Laventhol & Horwath is negotiating to reopen as a second Orange County branch of BDO Seidman, an official from that accounting firm confirmed Wednesday.

Previously, four of the partners in the office had said they would maintain an independent office--Carpe, Wachs, Kipper & Davis--after Laventhol & Horwath fired most of its 3,400 employees in November and announced that it would dissolve and file for protection from creditors under Chapter 11 of the federal bankruptcy code.

But plans to keep the local office going as an independent were squelched after some clients said they would change accountants because they wanted their audits certified by a big-name firm.

Jerry Walsh, a spokesman for BDO Seidman in New York, said negotiations are expected to conclude this week between his firm and partners from the former Laventhol office in Costa Mesa.

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He said he would not identify the partners his firm is negotiating with until the deal is final.

BDO Seidman, the U.S. member of BDO Binder of Brussels, is the seventh-largest accounting firm in the world, with 432 offices in 61 countries. In California, BDO Seidman has five offices, in Los Angeles, Orange, San Francisco, Torrance and San Diego.

People answering the telephone at the former Laventhol & Horwath office in Costa Mesa now say simply, “accounting offices.”

Three former partners are apparently already working for BDO Seidman: Rich Kipper at the company’s Los Angeles office, and Brian Wachs and Ron Williamson at BDO Seidman in Orange.

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BDO Seidman had revenue of $178 million for its fiscal year ended June 30, Walsh said, and parent BDO Binder predicts revenue of $1 billion worldwide for the year ending Dec. 31. The 80-year-old firm has 269 partners.

Laventhol & Horwath was the nation’s seventh-largest accounting firm, with 350 partners, when it broke up in November. At the time, the company said its liabilities far exceeded its assets, although figures were not given.

The company has $85 million in bank debt and there are several pending lawsuits alleging poor accounting that could add millions of dollars to the total.


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