Raymond Doherty 4 Jun 2018 11:05am

KPMG South Africa to cut 400 staff and close offices

The embattled Big Four firm is set to close regional offices, cut hundreds of staff and call in international leadership

KPMG South Africa has announced the “reshaping” of its business after a scandal-hit year in which it has lost number of major clients and been investigated for its work with the controversial Gupta family.

Today the firm revealed that up to 400 staff will lose their jobs and that some of its regional offices will be shut.

It is also going to embed additional senior international partners into the South African leadership team “to further strengthen the leadership capacity available to the South African firm as it navigates the current challenges it faces”.

Nhlamulo Dlomu, chief executive of KPMG South Africa, said, “These hard decisions were necessary to put the firm on a more sustainable footing.

“We are putting quality and integrity at the heart of the business and, from now on, the firm will be focused on doing fewer things better. I am confident that we have taken the right steps to reform and reshape the business. Now we need time for these to take hold.

“It is a matter of great regret that, as a result, we will be parting company with loyal colleagues. We are taking all possible steps to ensure these changes are managed in a caring manner and that everyone is treated with dignity.”

KPMG has been haemorrhaging clients and staff since its close links to the Gupta family became clear. Five of its leadership team resigned in September last year after an internal report found the firm had missed warning signs in the audits of Gupta-controlled companies.

The newly appointed head of the South African firm, Dlomu, was then forced to make a public apology, telling a committee of the South African Parliament that it was “important for us to acknowledge the mistakes we made in the course of doing our work”.

Since then, the firm has lost more partners over its audit of failed bank VBS Mutual, including prestigious clients such as Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg, South African mining group Rainbow Minerals, waste disposal company Interwaste and the African unit of insurance company Munich Re.

Additionally, last month South Africa's auditor general, Kimi Makwetu, terminated all its public sector contracts.

Bill Thomas, chairman of KPMG International, reiterated today that the South African business is “an important part of our global firm”.