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IBM-PwC Deal Gets OK

IBM's $3.5 billion cash-and-stock deal to acquire PwC Consulting received approval from PricewaterhouseCoopers' partners on Thursday afternoon, clearing the way for the acquisition to close by next month.

PricewaterhouseCoopers, PwC's parent company, said the vote by partners in its member firms was "overwhelmingly in favor" of the deal.

IBM has already begun to make room for PwC, which it struck a deal to buy last month in a bid to buff up its services unit. Last week, The Wall Street Journal reported IBM planned to cut 4,000 jobs from the 50,000 in its consulting operations. PwC will add another 30,000 employees, combining with IBM's consulting ranks to form IBM Global Services. The layoffs would amount to about 5 percent of the consolidated consulting unit.

After toying with spinning off the consulting unit in an IPO, PricewaterhouseCoopers decided to sell PwC to untangle its consulting and auditing businesses in the wake of the accounting scandals sweeping corporate America that raised questions about the practice of accounting firms consulting for their audit clients.

PricewaterhouseCoopers also said that the 30-day federal waiting period for regulatory objection to the merger had passed on Monday without any requests for additional information, removing another potential roadblock to closing the deal. The European Union's competition arm, as well as other regulatory agencies, still need to approve the deal.

The company said all regulatory approvals were expected by early next month.