Carel Hammer, head of Rotterdam-based consultancy Bureau Hammer says that its agreement to merge with Towers Perrin was in part prompted by a shortage of Dutch consultants which had impeded the firm's ability to grow.

Hammer says that his firm has been pursuing a growth strategy for two years but adds: It was difficult to find the people to allow us to grow fast. It was not a problem to get clients but the market was overheated for consultants. So the growth could not be as fast as I wanted."

The acquisition, which came into effect on 1 January this year, creates a merged firm of 130 employees with two offices in Amsterdam and one in Rotterdam trading under the Towers Perrin name. Hammer's clients in-clude Koninklijke PTT Netherland (Dutch Telecom), Zeneca, ICI Neth-erlands, and the Dutch Central Bank.

Hammer says that there are other reasons for the sale. Besides providing an all important international reach, the international consultancy brings human resources expertise, increasingly demanded by Dutch clients.

Alan Botterill, head of Towers Perrin's employee benefits consulting practice in Europe adds: "The Neth-erlands is one of our most important markets in Europe and we have been loo king to strengthen our Dutch capabilities.

"Hammer is the right partner for Towers Perrin." John Lappin"