Interested party from across the sea
By the second half of the noughties, Rimess was a well-known audit and accounting firm in Estonia, having held fourth place in terms of market share for years, and ahead of former suitor Deloitte in terms of turnover. At the same time, the firm began to expand its reach even further, first in Lithuania and then in Latvia. The company, which expanded rapidly and changed its name to Rimess Baltic, once again caught the eye of global players.
One such interested party was an old acquaintance, Mazars, who started merger negotiations with Rimess Baltic in around 2009. However, the terms offered by the French were not particularly favourable and after some discussion the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian partners decided not to accept the offer.
Another interested party was Grant Thornton, the global association of audit and business advisory firms. This US-British alliance had brought together member companies from more than a hundred countries under a common umbrella, and the Estonians were contacted from Grant Thornton’s London office. Nõmmiste explains: “The fact that the world’s seventh largest association of independent accounting and audit firms wanted to have Rimess Baltic among its members was great recognition of our work. You have to go through a rather strict screening process to become a member of Grant Thornton and the fact that Rimess Baltic had well-established cooperation in all of the Baltic countries was a big advantage for us.”
The partners and area managers of the Nordic countries and Baltic States meet at a biennial conference which is followed by a football tournament. The Baltic countries field a joint team, while Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark and Iceland each have their own team. There must be at least one woman among the players. Pictured: Baltic footballers in Iceland in 2022.
Aivar Kangust, sworn auditor and partner at Grant Thornton Baltic from 2010-2021, says that the turnover of Rimess Baltic was tiny in global terms, a mere decimal point compared, for example, to US members. “But they were interested in having a reliable partner in Estonia, so we were the next largest after the Big 4 and therefore the only viable choice, because the other companies here were even smaller,” he says.
The negotiations, which lasted for a year, were successfully concluded in October 2011, and that November Nõmmiste and Suits attended the Grant Thornton Annual Conference in Los Angeles. At first, the plan was to bring the Grant Thornton membership agreement into force on 1 January 2012, but due to legal complications the date was postponed to 10 February. Since then, Rimess Baltic has been part of the Grant Thornton network, while maintaining its independence and ability to decide its own future. This nevertheless came with the obligation to use the Grant Thornton name. However, Rimess was well known on the market and the company didn’t want to give up its name, so from early spring 2012 it operated under the name Grant Thornton Rimess Baltic. The name Rimess finally became history in 2015, when the current name Grant Thornton Baltic was adopted.