* KPMG says audit market most competitive ever
* Tax, consulting revenue offset weaker audit business
* Expects to hire 60,000 graduates over three years
NEW YORK, Dec 13 (Reuters) - Global audit firm KPMG International said revenues rose 1.4 percent to $23 billion in 2012, as strength in consulting and tax work offset the weaker audit business.
Not adjusting to U.S. dollars, revenues rose by 4.4 percent in the fiscal year ended September 30, KPMG said in a statement.
“On the audit side, the market has never been more competitive,” KPMG International Chairman Michael Andrew said.
KPMG is the smallest by revenue of the so-called Big Four firms, which audit nearly all of the world’s biggest companies. The other three are Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Ernst & Young.
Like other Big Four firms, KPMG benefited from strong growth in emerging markets, which helped offset impacts of a debt crisis in Europe. Revenue grew at 20 percent or more in Brazil, India, Chile, Argentina and Turkey, KPMG said.
KPMG’s audit revenues fell 1.6 percent to $10.31 billion, while tax grew 3.6 percent to $4.86 billion and consulting and advisory rose 4.2 percent to $7.86 billion.
KPMG increased its workforce by more than 5 percent to over 152,000, a record.
The firm said it plans to recruit 60,000 graduates in the next three years, its biggest recruitment drive ever, after hiring 18,000 in 2012.
KPMG set up firms in Iraq and Mongolia during the past year and now operates in 156 countries.
Lawmakers in the European Union have been mulling ways to increase competition and break the grip of the four firms on the audit market, including forcing companies to “rotate” or switch auditors -- a step the four firms have strongly opposed.