PPB Advisory quartet reunite to launch Duff & Phelps Australia

26 April 2020 Consultancy.com.au 5 min. read
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Duff & Phelps has entered the Australian market with the launch of an office in Sydney, its first in Oceania and 15th in Asia Pacific. The move sees a quartet of former PPB Advisory seniors reunite.

The move comes within a week after Duff & Phelps completed consulting firm retaining a significant stake in the company.

US-headquartered Duff & Phelps has over 4,000 employees, the most of which are based in the America’s, although in recent years the consultancy has been expanding its footprint aggressively in Europe and Asia Pacific. Described by Chief Executive Officer Noah Gottdiener as a “key market”, the firm has now launched an on the ground operation in Australia having previously been active in the country through its Kroll subsidiary. 

In July 2019, investigations and risk subsidiary Kroll acquired Enex Carbon, a Melbourne-based firm specialised in cyber security, governance and risk services, providing Kroll with a domestic base. 

Duff & Phelps launches in Australia

The new Sydney office will focus on restructuring, turnaround and crisis management services, one of Duff & Phelps’s key service lines globally. The consultancy has over the years led some of the world’s largest and most complex administrations, including a raft of recent insolvencies sparked by the covid-19-induced downturn.

But Duff & Phelps’ portfolio is much broader than just restructuring and risk management work. The firm also supports clients with corporate finance, mergers & acquisitions, disputes and regulatory compliance, with its advisory capacity serving more than 50% of the S&P 500, 60% of the Fortune 100 and 70% of the world’s top-tier hedge and private equity funds. 

A reunion under a new brand

Tapped to lead the expansion drive down under are four senior advisors who previously all were partners at PPB Advisory, an Australian insolvency specialist that was acquired by PwC some two years ago. 

Both David Webb and Ken Whittingham were a partner at BDO before they joined PPB Advisory, and transferred to PwC as part of the deal in the summer of 2018. Combined, the duo have over sixty years of experience providing restructuring and turnaround advice to banks, financiers, lawyers, accountants and their clients. 

Marcus Ayres (not to be confused with Roland Berger partner Marcus Ayres) and Brett Lord meanwhile left PPB Advisory months before the transaction was announced, joining EY’s Restructuring practice instead. Ayres led the Sydney restructuring team at PPB Advisory, while Lord was part of the firm’s senior team. 

Marcus Ayres, Brett Lord, David Webb and Ken Whittingham

Appointed Head of Duff & Phelps’ Australian Restructuring Advisory practice, Ayres said, “The team are excited by the opportunity to expand the Duff & Phelps practice into Australia, providing the market with a truly independent, globally connected restructuring and advisory service.” 

Commenting on the reuniting, Lord said, “Last week I said hello again to some old friends, this time at a new home, Duff & Phelps. It is very exciting to reconnect with past and present colleagues as we build the Restructuring practice at Duff & Phelps in Australia.” 

Congratulating the team on LinkedIn, David Webb (another David Webb), who also was a partner at PPB Advisory and now works for Deloitte as Head of Restructuring for Asia Pacific, said “Good to see the group back together”, while Patrick Cowley, Head of KPMG’s Restructuring practice for Asia Pacific, added that the band has picked a “great timing” for the launch. 

“This is an exciting and pivotal moment for our practice as we expand our services to Australia,” concluded Paul Clark, Managing Director and Global Head of the Restructuring Advisory practice. The Sydney office of Duff & Phelps is centrally located within the Sydney Central Business District. 

In recent months, several global consulting brands have entered Australia’s $6 billion consulting industry. In February, TMT consultancy Delta Partners setup shop in Sydney, while at the start of the year US-based Slalom expanded into the region. Meanwhile, last week mid-sized UK consultancy Elixirr also entered the Australian market.