PwC picks up tax advisory Greenwoods & Herbert Smith Freehills

28 February 2022 3 min. read
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Specialist tax advisory Greenwoods & Herbert Smith Freehills is set to join PwC’s financial advisory practice, with a team of 15 partners and 50 tax professionals to cross mid-year.

Greenwoods, which has offices in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, has a long-standing association with leading international law firm Herbert Smith Freehills, but operates as a separate legal entity. This alliance will now end in June following the deal.

Established in Sydney in 1985 by accountancy Greenwood Challoner (which was later acquired by Deloitte) and Freehill, Hollingdale and Page, Greenwoods & Herbert Smith Freehills bills itself as Australia’s largest specialist tax firm. It provides services in tax advisory and compliance & technology, transfer pricing, and investigations & disputes, with specialisations in M&A, superannuation and GST among other areas.

PwC picks up tax advisory Greenwoods & Herbert Smith Freehills

“Greenwoods is very highly regarded in the market for its M&A, infrastructure, real estate, financial services and high net wealth capabilities, and its partners and their teams will bolster PwC’s broader financial advisory business, comprised of Deals, Integrated Infrastructure, Legal, PwC Private and Tax,” said Pete Calleja, who heads up a team of more than 320 partners as PwC’s national financial advisory managing partner.

Although terms of the deal remain confidential, PwC’s national Tax leader Chris Morris described the acquisition as a significant investment, with the aim of cementing the firm as the local market leader for integrated tax solutions. Morris pointed to the increasingly complex tax environment and compliance obligations for businesses both domestically and globally, including the need to navigate major reforms of the international tax system.

As a further motivating factor for the purchase, Morris also cited the chronic staff shortages impacting the profession, but said PwC’s Tax practice would achieve its highest number of partnership admissions this year. “The war for talent is hotter than ever before. That’s why we’re pleased to be bringing in 15 partners and around 50 highly-talented staff to enable our business to continue to meet market demand.”

Greenwoods managing partner Manuel Makas stated that the opportunity to be part of an extensive international network with a broadened suite of services was the driving force behind the move. “Globalisation and technology are increasingly relevant to business, and joining with PwC will enable us to offer our clients a broader range of services. We believe our combined offering will be truly differentiated in the market.”

For PwC, the deal is the first national transaction since it closed three acquisitions in October last year. With revenues of $2.6 billion, PwC is the largest of the Big Four in Australia.

Meanwhile, Andrew Pike, Asia and Australia executive partner at Herbert Smith Freehills, said the law firm is in the process of building up its own in-house tax practice. “We are working to create our own leading tax practice that is optimal for our clients’ needs and builds on our existing strength in stamp duty and tax disputes. We are energised by this prospect given the advantages our clients see in having an integrated tax capability within the firm.”

“As well as strengthening our own capability, we will also continue to work with external tax advisory specialists when there is a client need, as we have always done. That may include the Greenwoods team joining PwC.”