Top ten accountancy and business advisory firms BDO and Moore Stephens have exchanged contracts confirming a merger that will create the largest UK accountant and business adviser focused on entrepreneurially-spirited, fast-growing businesses and high-net-worth individuals.

The exchange of contracts, confirms a deal that will cement BDO’s position as the UK’s leading AIM-market auditor and will enhance the combined firm’s expertise in sectors including financial services, insurance and shipping.

The merger, which relates only to the London, Birmingham, Reading, Bristol and Watford offices of Moore Stephens, will also make BDO the third biggest auditor of listed companies overall and enable it to focus on improving quality and competition at the upper end of the audit market.

More than 5,000 people across the UK will deliver a gross annual revenue of £590m following completion of the merger. The firm will remain part of BDO globally, which announced revenue growth of 10 per cent earlier this month to a combined fee income of US$9bn.

Paul Eagland, Managing Partner, BDO, said “Our shared ambition is to create a fully-integrated firm which leads in serving what we call the UK ‘economic engine’ – the country’s entrepreneurially-spirited businesses. As a combined firm, we also create a stronger challenger at the top-end of the audit market by offering greater scalability; however our continued focus on quality will preside above all else.”

Simon Gallagher, Managing Partner, Moore Stephens LLP, said “I am immensely proud of Moore Stephens, which has delivered double digit growth for several consecutive years. Joining forces with BDO will allow us to continue this growth trajectory, enabling us to deliver the ever-increasing range and depth of solutions requested by clients.”