Bentleys on Thursday announced the sale of its audit business to Hall Chadwick following calls from CountPlus, a major shareholder in the firm, to simplify its business and focus resources on tax and business advisory services.
The firm’s Western Australian outpost was the last CountPlus member firm to offer audit services, said newly appointed Bentleys WA managing director Fab Fanayan.
“CountPlus has made the decision to exit completely from audit services,” Mr Fanayan said. “Bentleys WA was the only firm within the CountPlus group that provided any substantial audit services. This step has allowed them to simplify their business.”
The CountPlus group told the ASX last Friday that it had finalised terms of the sale, which will see cash consideration for the sale valued at $4.035 million, based on acquired client relationships, work in progress, equipment and a 12-month rental contribution.
Bentleys WA’s three audit principals — Chris Nicoloff, Mark DeLaurentis and Doug Bell — will move to Hall Chadwick as part of the sale.
The deal will see Bentleys WA restructured and focus instead on its “core client segment”, SME accounting and advisory services, and financial advice. CountPlus will retain a 60 per cent stake in the firm after the restructure.
It will also see Mr Fanayan promoted to managing director of Bentleys WA, and “key management personnel” acquire equity in the restructured firm under what the group has called the CountPlus OD-P model.
Mr Fanayan said the deal will allow the firm to shift its focus to its SME clients and reset the strategic vision for the business.
“A fundamental part of the restructure is having key team members become equity owners under the CountPlus OD-P model,” he said.
“Knowing we have the support, resources and capabilities of the CountPlus network behind us, we can look forward to driving growth and opportunities for our clients and staff.”
In the interim, Mr Fanayan said that it will be business as usual for both the firm and its existing clients.
“With the support of my fellow partners, Ross Prosper and Erich Pedersen, and our respective teams, I look forward to delivering more value-added services to our corporate and SME clients in Western Australia,” Mr Fanayan said.
“Bentleys has been pursuing a more specialised advisory focus across Australia over the past five years and these services have never been more important than the current period when SMEs are grappling with the long-term economic implications of COVID-19.”
CountPlus said that all business units of Bentleys WA posted unaudited net profit earnings of $197,000 for the 2021 financial year, and $153,000 for the 2020 financial year.
The group said the restructured Bentleys WA, though, will be written down to a nil carrying value, and that a one-off estimated profit on sale of $1.25 million is set to materialise in the 2022 financial year.
John Buckley is a journalist at Accountants Daily.
Before joining the team in 2021, John worked at The Sydney Morning Herald. His reporting has featured in a range of outlets including The Washington Post, The Age, and The Saturday Paper.