A Multi-Billion Dollar IPO?

PricewaterhouseCoopers paved the way for what could be a multi-billion dollar
IPO, filing a registration statement with the SEC to take its PwCC Ltd.
Consulting unit public later this year.

The move is widely seen as designed to help the accounting giant protect
itself from any potential Enron-like auditing fallout.

The Bermuda-based PwCC consulting operation, a giant
in its own right with about 33,500 employees and $6.7 billion in fiscal 2001
revenues, already has begun the process of changing its name and brand
identity, and expects to announce its new name prior to the offering,
expected in August.

The stock would trade on the New York Stock Exchange. As is customary, the
size and the estimated price of the IPO were not disclosed in the filing.

Morgan Stanley was listed as the sole underwriter to handle the offering,
which could run upwards of $1 billion. Some speculative reports have said the
could eventually be worth up to $9 billion
, which would make it the
second largest initial public offering in history behind AT&T Wireless .

PwCC Consulting operates the management consulting and technology services
businesses of the PricewaterhouseCoopers network of firms.

PricewaterhouseCoopers had said earlier that it would separate its consulting
business as a way to avoid possible conflicts with its auditing business.
General concerns have arisen about auditors’ independence from clients to
whom they provide consulting services, especially given the fall of Enron and
the subsequent damage to Arthur Andersen.

“The primary purpose of this offering is to ensure that we will no longer be
subject to the rules and regulations governing the independence of auditors
from their clients and to eliminate any perceived conflicts of interest,”
PwCC said.

Income before partner distributions in 2001 was $424.2 million, compared with
$604.1 million in 2000, according to the preliminary prospectus filed with
the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The IPO would follow similar separations by units at rival firms. Both
Accenture , the former consulting arm of Arthur Andersen, and
KPMG Consulting Inc. , a former unit of KPMG, went public
last year.

Two years ago, Hewlett-Packard Co. had been in talks to acquire the
consulting division of PWC, but the deal fell apart. PricewaterhouseCoopers
is the world’s biggest accounting firm with 150,000 employees and $23 billion
in revenue.

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