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KPMG's UK boss Simon Collins loses out in race to become global chairman of accounting giant

The UK boss of KPMG has lost out in his bid to become global chairman of the accountancy giant.

Simon Collins, who threw his hat in the ring for the firm’s top job in December last year, has dropped out of the race in recent weeks, it is understood.

A number of other senior KPMG figures were reported to be in the running, including chief executive of Germany Klaus Becker, and counterpart Elio Luongo, who holds the same role in Canada.

Mr Collins surprised fellow partners during the firm’s annual conference in December by announcing that he would not be seeking re-election as the UK chairman. 

Instead, he put his name forward to be the next global head when John Veihmeyer retires later this year.

Last week, the Big Four firm unveiled Bill Michael, previously the head of its banking audit division, as the person to succeed Mr Collins in the UK. The pair will work in tandem until September when Michael formally takes over.

Michael revealed that his main priority when he formally takes over later this year is to attract the best and the brightest people in order to drive the firm forward.

Mr Collins will leave the firm having taken it through the £2bn revenue barrier for the first ever time last year. He is credited with diversifing KPMG away from its roots as a straight forward bean counter, pushing heavily into other areas such as cyber-security.

He has also helped the firm regain its status as the leading auditor to UK-listed companies. KPMG also secured audits of companies such as Legal and General, John Lewis Partnership, Standard Life, Balfour Beatty and Wood Group.

Mr Collins has also been a big champion of women in the boardroom.

However, in his final year, heavy investment led to a fall in profits with the partners taking home £582,000 on average in 2016, compared to £623,000 the year before. Mr Collins’s pay also fell, from £2.2m to £1.8m.

It has been a tough period for the accountancy giants. A wave of new regulations including new rules forcing the mandatory tendering of audit contracts for large British public companies, has put pressure on their business models. At the same time, there have been a succession of major probes into the industry’s conduct. 

KPMG has also faced probes into its auditing of the Co-op bank when it ran into financial trouble, and HBOS before its taxpayer-bailout in 2008.

KPMG couldn't be immediately reached for comment