Andersen Global, the tax and legal advisory network that emerged from the ashes of onetime accounting giant Arthur Andersen, has entered the Asian legal market through a tie-up with an Indian firm.
Andersen Global’s expansion into Asia comes as the Big Four accounting firms have been growing and expanding their legal services offerings in the region—most recently in Hong Kong, where PricewaterhouseCoopers and EY have made big hires in the past few months.
(Before Arthur Andersen’s collapse in the wake of the Enron scandal, the firm ranked among the major accounting firms, then known as the Big Five.)
Vaish Associates will become a collaborating firm of the Andersen Global network, which was formed in 2013 and now has more than 3,000 professionals worldwide providing international tax and legal services. The association will give the Indian firm access to clients from the network’s members and collaborating firms in 103 locations around the world.
A 100-lawyer full-service law firm, Vaish Associates advises clients on tax, corporate, competition laws, intellectual property rights, informational technology laws, alternative dispute resolution and litigation.
“Vaish has a strong tax and legal practice, and it seemed to us that Andersen Global is a natural fit,” said Bomi Daruwala, the Indian firm’s joint managing partner. “Andersen is emerging as a credible alternative to [the] Big Four in tax practice and we want to be part of the success of Andersen Global network.”
Andersen Global decided to collaborate with Vaish because India is one of the most strategic markets in the world, Mark Vorsatz, global chairman of Andersen Global, said in a statement.
“The relationship with the Vaish law firm provides us with an outstanding firm that is best-in-class in direct taxation and legal services,” Vorsatz said.
India’s $2 trillion-plus economy recently expanded at its fastest pace in two years, growing 7.7 percent in the first quarter this year. But so far, the ability of global law firms to tap into that growth has been limited. Foreign firms are not allowed to establish a physical office in India and the process of liberalizing the Indian legal market has been on hold.
In March, the nation’s top court ruled that foreign law firms are still not permitted to set up offices in the country, although they are allowed to advise on non-Indian law matters on a temporary basis.
This is not the first legal network created by an Andersen-affiliated entity. Back in 1993, accounting giant Arthur Andersen launched a legal network called Andersen Legal—the first among the then-Big Five accounting firms to do so. It had about 3,400 lawyers, the most of any legal network or law firm, across 36 countries worldwide, and member firms in Asia included India’s DSK Legal and Singaporean Big Four firm Rajah & Tann. But in 2002, as Arthur Andersen became engulfed in the Enron scandal and implicated for its role as auditor of the bankrupt Texas energy company, Anderson Legal collapsed.
In the scandal’s wake, 23 former tax partners launched Wealth & Tax Advisory Services Inc. (WTAS) in the United States. In 2013, the network expanded in Europe by launching WTAS Global. The next year, WTAS rebranded itself Andersen Tax, and WTAS Global became Andersen Global.