Parthenon-EY expands in Nordics with acquisition of BOX Associates

10 November 2017 Consultancy.uk

Parthenon-EY have recently expanded in the Nordics with acquisition of BOX Associates, a boutique consultancy founded just eight months ago. EY’s acquisition will see the boutique’s founders and former Qvartz personnel Thomas Holm-Møller, Nicolai Strate and Jakob Wedel become Partners at the Big Four firm’s strategy arm.

EY have acquired strategy consultancy BOX Associates to further enhance the firm’s position in the growing market for growth ventures, innovation and digital transformation. Following the conclusion of the deal, BOX Associates becomes EY-BOX, and will be located within Parthenon-EY – EY’s corporate strategy business.

The purchase is the latest in a succession of additions to the outfit, commencing with the acquisition of US-based strategy firm Parthenon, from which it draws half of its name, along with several other strategic investments and technology partnerships aimed at positioning EY as a global leader in the field of growth, innovation and technology. Most recently, this saw EY famously raid rival top 10 strategy firm OC&C for not only their entire Benelux arm in 2016, but then their complete French wing in mid-2017.

Now a part of Parthenon-EY, EY-BOX will be working closely with EY’s 15 innovation and technology centres around the world. The new solution will encompass partners and professionals working out of BOX Associates’ existing Co-Lab facilities that also hosts several high profile technology entrepreneurs, investors and corporate innovation teams today, including Uber, Simple Feast and ByFounders, a newly established venture fund.

EY Box

With the acquisition of BOX Associates, EY looks to cement their outlook and position on the forefront of strategy consulting, having already grown Parthenon-EY into the eighth largest such firm globally, as well as further expanding into Nordic territory. Launched only half a year ago, by co-founders of Danish-headquartered firm Qvartz, BOX Associates was founded and designed to address these specific needs through a new approach to strategic problem- solving, bringing the working practices of entrepreneurs into the corporate transformation agenda and into the value-creation logic of the investors.

EY-BOX will face stern competition in the Nordics, which has seen firms increasingly expanding into the region following strong economic performances of the group of nations – whose banks now even rival the Swiss. Traditional players, McKinsey, BCG and Bain are among the names spreading into the Northern countries, alongside the rapidly growing strategy consultancy Qvartz – who have lately been making the reverse journey, expanding outside, to Germany and even into the US. The firm also notably made a very different journey, with two consultants driving from Denmark to Mongolia in the name of charity.

New partners

As a result of the BOX acquisition, Parthenon-EY will also obtain two of Qvartz’s founders, along with a former senior partner of the firm. Founders Jakob Wedel, a former PwC consultant and McKinsey Engagement Manager; Thomas Holm-Møller, a former Andersen/Accenture consultant; and Nicolai Strate, a one-time PwC and IBM consultant and Qvartz Senior Partner – left the firm to establish BOX in 2017. They will become Partners of EY.

Commenting on their catching of EY’s eye so quickly after launching, Wedel said, “There is a clear need for new conversations and new collaborations. The strategy playbook is changing and what we bring to the table is a proven perspective on how corporates, startups and investors can shape their future strategies by responding to new types of questions. Being part of EY’s global network, investing significantly into the new strategy and innovation space, we are poised to set an agenda for others to follow."

Jesper Almström, EY's Nordic Managing Partner for Transaction Advisory Services, added, “Acquiring a boutique consultancy founded just eight months ago may seem unusual. However, we saw how the BOX team had developed a perspective and approach that not only resonates, but also fully complements EY’s strategy and transaction advisory services. BOX are liberatingly provocative in their approach and is giving us a new lens on how to roll out a perspective and approach to value creation that will benefit not only our existing client base, but also attract new clients and talent."

Meanwhile, in neighbouring Sweden, a roughly €800 million consulting market, Helene Willberg, formerly KPMG's CEO for Sweden, joined A&M in September as a co-leader of the firm’s new Stockholm practice, which was launched in August this year. One month later, Capco, a consultancy for the financial services, followed suit with its own expansion into Sweden.

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