Newry accountancy firm FPM in merger with global services group AAB

Announcing the merger are Feargal McCormack (left), managing director of FPM, and Graeme Allan, chief executive of AAB Group. Picture: Darryl Mooney
Gary McDonald Business Editor

NEWRY-headquartered business advisory firm FPM has merged with Anderson Anderson & Brown (AAB) in what is understood to be the first private equity investment in accountancy firms in the island of Ireland.

The alignment with the Aberdeen-based firm creates a stellar-growth group with £50 million-plus revenues and 550 staff at 10 offices across the UK and Ireland.

AAB, which was at the heart of 50 completed transactions last year worth more than £750 million, has described the merger as “a hugely important milestone for our group” and believes it will further fast-track its own ambitious growth plans and create a significant regional presence in two key jurisdictions.

And FPM founder Feargal McCormack said the deal is a “great opportunity” for his own multi award-winning team.

“We've been acknowledged for best in practice in both Ireland and the UK, but need to take on new challenges and see this as a fantastic opportunity, as it will allow us to go into sectors in the market we aren't currently in and aggressively target the higher-end exporting and global SMEs.”

He added: “People talk about being a global business, but AAB have done it. They have a proven track record of servicing SMEs and large corporations around the world, working with clients in over 140 countries.”

FPM, which last year celebrated its 30th anniversary, has current revenues of around £10m and a team of 120 in Belfast, Newry, Dungannon, Mallusk and, significantly, Balbriggan in north Dublin.

Its nine shareholder directors will all remain in their current roles and will continue to drive the growth of FPM as part of the AAB Group, which itself has grown rapidly in the last 12 months following three M&A transactions and investment from August Equity last October.

AAB was founded in 1990 by retired senior partner Mike Brown and two former Ernst & Young colleagues Bobby Anderson and Sheena Anderson. It now boasts 450 staff, including 28 partners, at offices in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds and London.

Its chief executive Graeme Allan believes FPM’s complementary geographic presence will further enhance AAB as a key player in the UK & Irish accountancy and business services markets.

He said: “We're building big regional hubs, like AAB Group in Scotland, Sagars in the north of England, and now FPM on the island of Ireland.

“With Feargal and FPM, we gain an impressive team with a great reputation and significant presence across the island of Ireland.

“There is a strong cultural fit between our firms, and at the heart of this is a passion for helping team members and clients achieve their goals, which makes us hugely excited about the opportunity this merger presents.”

Following the merger, AAB will continue to actively pursue its organic and M&A growth plans, looking to strengthen its team with further recruitment across all locations, and continue to identify attractive M&A opportunities which augment the group’s current activities.

Mr McCormack added: “The synergies across our teams, service provision and sector specialisms, provide a fantastic platform for exciting future growth.

“We were attracted to AAB as it has impressive global connections and experience working with high-growth SME businesses and large corporations internationally.

“It instantly gives us the capabilities to do even more for our clients, wherever they wish to do business across the world, and also provide our teams with enhanced opportunities to progress and develop as part of a larger group.”

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