CHICAGO - Advisory firm Crowe Horwath LLP this week announced it plans to merge with public accounting and consulting firm Hays & Co. in a bid to expand its East Coast presence.

The Oak Brook, Ill.-based Crowe plans to open a new office in New York City that will be staffed with about 50 employees. The office will be led by David Lifson and Ed Kuczmarski from Hays.

The merger comes several months after Crowe changed its name to Crowe Horwath from Crowe Chizek & Co. in an effort to build a stronger national reputation by promoting its 17-year-old ties with Horwath International. Crowe offers accounting, management, and other advisory needs from a local, national, and international platform.

About 150 of Crowe's 2,500 employees work in its public sector group, which serves roughly 800 clients in 30 states. Crowe officials declined to comment on whether the new office would include public finance professionals or whether the merger would affect the firm's public finance team.

"This is another step to accomplishing our vision of becoming a national firm that is globally recognized, and will firmly establish Crowe's entry into the New York market," said Chuck Allen, Crowe's chief executive officer, in a statement. The firm currently has offices in Livingston, N.J., and Philadelphia.

The merger is scheduled to close in late spring.

Among financial advisers, Crowe in 2008 ranked eighth in Indiana on seven bond deals worth $53.8 million and 23rd in Illinois on 10 issues worth $43.2 million, according to Thomson Reuters. The firm ranked 47th among financial advisers in the Midwest last year.

Crowe maintains 25 offices. Though officially based in the Chicago suburb of Oak Brook, it maintains a key presence in Indianapolis.

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