LONDON KPMG is to buy London-based corporate advisory firm Makinson Cowell to tap into growing demand from companies wanting to know how they are viewed by shareholders and creditors.
Last year's so-called "shareholder spring" saw institutional investors at loggerheads with company board members over executive pay, corporate governance and capital spending, with some investor revolts toppling CEOs.
That has left many companies wanting a better idea of how they are perceived by their stakeholders to help smooth those tensions.
Makinson Cowell interviews a company's debt and equity holders on its behalf and reports back their opinions to help management make decisions and improve performance.
It serves mainly Europe-based companies with research and advice that is designed to be independent from creditors. It has offices in London, New York and Paris and employs 70 people.
"There is such a big debate at the moment about the connectivity between institutional investors and boardrooms and auditors, so anything that gives us insight into what drives institutional investors is going to make us a better servant to the capital markets," said Simon Collins, UK chairman and senior partner at KPMG.
Financial details of the acquisition, which has yet to be approved by regulators, were not disclosed.
It would build on the global accounting giant's existing debt advice business, which has worked with borrowers on financing strategies worth more than 60 billion euros ($78.49 billion) in the last two years, according to its website.
The business will carry a joint brand - KPMG Makinson Cowell - and will be run by Makinson Cowell's Bob Cowell and Howard Coates with KPMG's Neill Thomas.
(Reporting by Clare Hutchison; Editing by Tom Pfeiffer)