Top Middle East accountancy practice Ernst & Young is pushing ahead with its efforts to move back into Iraq and plans to reopen there within days.
The firm, which launched its Middle East operation in Basra in 1923 — the Basra office was closed in 1972 “because of circumstances” — is to set up a large office to handle the “substantial work” it has in the pipeline.
Speaking exclusively to Gulf News yesterday, the firm's Country Partner Edward Quinlan, said: “Four of our partners were in Iraq last week to prepare the ground.
“We have to make sure that it is suitable for our staff to go out there and to work there.”
What they saw must have been reassuring because the new office is expected to be up and running in just a few days. The reason is: “We have some major work there.”
Surprisingly, though, and part of the explanation for the speed of the firm's re-entry, is that it is in huge demand from local interest and has plenty of new work from “local clients”.
This is on top of the accounting and consultancy work it carries out for its international clients.
Quinlan said: “Many of our clients are operating in Iraq.
“Just from the assignments we have already gained — servicing those will involve between 10 and 12 people.”
The firm has seen plenty of interest — and more importantly — involvement from companies operating out of Dubai.
Quinlan said: “The Iraq work coming from companies based in Dubai is very significant.”
He confirmed that there should be a huge competitive advantage for the firm in returning to Iraq at the earliest opportunity.
Quinlan said: “Our audit practice was rolled out in the Middle East from Iraq and many of our senior partners were Iraqi.”