KPMG Legal seeks name all its own

KPMG Legal is dumping its name amid fears that it is not seen as independent from affiliate accountancy firm KPMG.

A new brand is likely to be unveiled by the end of the year.

The move is in reaction to worldwide concerns about independence since the collapse of corporates such as Enron and global accountancy firm Andersen.

KPMG Legal chief executive Graham Shaw said the firm would probably return to its old name of Kensington Swan.

He had a list of about 25 new names and would discuss them with the firm's 43 partners next month.

A new name was “more likely this year than next”.

Kensington Swan changed its name to KPMG Legal in 2000 in anticipation of the Law Practitioners Act allowing accounting and legal partnerships.

The name is used under a sub-licence, much like a franchise agreement, that is paid for by annual levies.

The agreement also means work is referred between the firms and any affiliates.

Financial information on the firms is shared as part of the agreement, but ownership remains separate.

Shaw said the relationship envisaged for KPMG and KPMG Legal never had a chance to be consummated after a wave of corporate collapses ensured global distaste of such partnerships.

“This is really driven out of the post-Enron era,” he said. “Independence is paramount.”

The sub-licensing agreement will be dropped when KPMG Legal is rebranded.

KPMG's German affiliate, KPMG Beiten Burkhardt, dropped its prefix in December, saying “the change of name is designed to clarify the position to the German market”.

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