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Top 25 firm Cherry Bekaert reveals transformative private equity investment

Private equity has claimed another stake in a top 25 accounting firm.

Cherry Bekaert LLP announced Thursday that private equity firm Parthenon Capital has made a strategic investment in the Raleigh, N.C.-based accounting firm.

The deal, financial terms of which were not disclosed, splits Cherry Bekaert into two parts. Because only CPAs can own firms that provide attest services, Cherry Bekaert LLP has been spun off into a separate legal entity. Meanwhile, Parthenon is pumping capital into the newly formed Cherry Bekaert Advisory LLC, which will use the cash to fund the growth of its business advisory and nonattest services.

Michelle Thompson, the current managing partner of Cherry Bekaert LLP, will serve as the chief executive officer of Cherry Bekaert Advisory LLC, while Collin G. Hill will become the managing partner of Cherry Bekaert LLP.

“We are excited about Parthenon’s commitment to provide additional investment in technology, infrastructure, and other key areas that will enable us to better serve our clients,” Thompson said in a news release.

Thursday’s announcement is the third private equity investment into a top 25 firm announced in the past year. In August 2021 came the announcement that TowerBrook Capital Partners purchased an undisclosed ownership stake in EisnerAmper LLP, the first such deal between a top 20 accounting firm and a private equity concern.  

In April, private equity firm New Mountain Capital announced that it had purchased majority ownership of top 25 firm Citrin Cooperman in a deal that closed six months earlier.

As with the Cherry Bekaert deal, the EisnerAmper and Citrin Cooperman investments also resulted in each firm being split into separate attest and nonattest entities.

Parthenon’s managing partner, Andrew Dodson, said that its capital infusion into Cherry Bekaert would be used to promote organic growth and fund acquisitions.

“We are eager to collaborate with the Cherry Bekaert team to support continued strong growth,” said Dodson in the press release.

Guggenheim Securities LLC acted as sole financial adviser for the deal. Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP served as legal counsel to Cherry Bekaert. Kirkland & Ellis LLP and BakerHostetler LLP served as legal counsel to Parthenon.

— To comment on this article or to suggest an idea for another article, contact Kevin Brewer at [email protected]

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