IBM case study 

The introduction of Sarbanes-Oxley led to opportunities as well as constraints for professional services firms. In KPMG's case, it led to an opening to build a global Transaction Services relationship with IBM.

We were asked to showcase our talent on a relatively small deal and performed so well we were immediately offered another deal. We are now IBM's preferred provider of due diligence services globally.


The brief

It all started in Sydney
In the wake of Sarbanes-Oxley, many U.S. companies were obliged to reassess the business relationship with their auditors. Their aim, of course, was to avoid giving the perception that the independence of their auditor was compromised. IBM was no exception and in mid 2003, sought to identify a secondary provider to their auditor for due diligence work on potential acquisition candidates.


They wanted to identify an alternative provider in case there was a conflict of interest. They therefore offered us and several of our competitors relatively small deals in order to showcase our approach to due diligence work, our team and our reporting style. Our deal was the potential acquisition of a small software company based in Sydney, Australia.

The solution
A pragmatic, business-minded approach
In approaching this engagement we decided that our Sydney office would perform all the work but that our New York office would oversee the engagement and the reporting in order to build the relationship with IBM's corporate office. We saw this as important given that they would be the source of future potential work. We took a business rather than just an accountant's approach to the work, aiming for a pragmatic, highly-succinct report.


After a week of onsite due diligence work in Australia and close co-operation between the U.S. and Australian firms, we delivered our report. IBM were so impressed with the quality of our work that they saw an opportunity to upgrade the quality of their overall due diligence.


However, naturally enough, they wanted to make sure our success had not been a one-off. They therefore asked us to perform due diligence on another transaction, this time in California. Suffice to say, we again delivered a top-class engagement, establishing ourselves as IBM's future preferred provider of all due diligence services.

Derek, partner-in-charge of Transactions Services in the Mid-atlantic region of the U.S., is the Transaction Services global lead partner on IBM and has played a key role in building the relationship.


His career demonstrates just how fast a career in KPMG can take off. After starting with KPMG in 1991 as an audit associate in the Guildford, U.K. office, he took the opportunity just 3 years later of an international assignment to our recently established office in Prague, Czech Republic. Here, he worked in the German practice, mainly helping foreign companies acquire businesses in the newly opened markets of Eastern Europe.


In 1996 he relocated to New York, U.S. to help found the firm's U.S. Transaction Services practice, helping it to grow to a national practice of now 600 professionals.

Consistent, global approach helps ensure ongoing relationship
Since the initial opportunity in 2003 to showcase our Transactions Services talent, we have worked on over 35 separate transactions for IBM, many of which have been lead stories in the business press. Our due diligence work now cuts across multiple service lines, including Mergers & Acquisitions, Tax, Valuation Services, Internal Audit, Business Due Diligence/Strategic Commercial Intelligence and Human Resources practices.

From the client's perspective, they know they can expect to receive the same approach and delivery style whether they ask us to work on a deal in Denmark or Brazil. From our perspective, team members have the opportunity to work with both industry-leading professionals from IBM and members of the global KPMG family, so continually enhancing their global outlook and expertise.

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Transaction Services

KPMG’s Transaction Services practice helps client organisations assess, plan and manage major transactions.