* Ernst says 2012 revenues best since 2012
* Advisory, consulting lead revenue growth
* Emerging markets post double-digit gains
Oct 1 Global audit firm Ernst & Young
said revenues for 2012 rose to $24.4 billion, but warned the
coming months will be challenging because of the European
sovereign debt crisis and the looming U.S. "fiscal cliff" at
Led by double-digit growth in consulting and advisory
services, Ernst's revenues for the fiscal year ended June 30
increased 6.7 percent from $22.9 billion in 2011.
Ernst & Young last year ranked as third-largest of the "Big
Four" audit and consulting firms in revenues, behind
PricewaterhouseCoopers and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu
Ltd and ahead of KPMG.
Deloitte last month announced revenues of $31.3 billion,
while the other two Big Four firms have yet to report.
Emerging markets were a key revenue source for Ernst, though
slowing growth will make the coming months more challenging, the
firm said in a statement. Revenues in Brazil grew 17.5 percent,
while India's rose 19.8 percent and China's grew 11.8 percent.
Revenues in the United Kingdom grew 11 percent, the most in
Ernst's global advisory and consulting services grew 16.2
percent, while audit and related services rose just 4.1 percent
and tax revenues grew 7.0 percent.
Ernst increased its headcount by more than 15,000 to
Overall results were the best since 2008, Ernst said.
However, the firm said it is facing an uncertain business
climate because of Europe's debt crisis and the U.S. fiscal
cliff - the year-end deadline when a wave of automatic tax
increases will occur and deep federal spending cuts will begin
unless Congress acts.
Ernst's results cap more than a decade of growth under
global Chief Executive Jim Turley, who retires in June 2013.
Ernst's revenues were $10 billion when Turley became CEO in
2001. He will be replaced by Mark Weinberger, a former U.S.
Treasury official and lobbyist.
The Big Four's combined revenues are expected to post a
third straight year of gains after a recessionary downturn in
2009. The firms are cementing their grip on audits of the
world's biggest companies, despite concerns by some regulators
that more competition is needed.
The Big Four are facing more regulatory scrutiny after they
failed to flag risks at banks that had to be bailed out during
the global financial crisis.
The European Union is mulling restrictions on consulting
services firms can provide to companies they audit, while U.S.
regulators are considering a requirement that companies switch
audit firms more often.
(Reporting by Dena Aubin; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh, Bernard