On the 1 July 2008, PricewaterhouseCoopers celebrates 10 years since it came into being, following the merger of Price Waterhouse and Coopers & Lybrand. At the time, this mega-merger was highly controversial, upsetting both clients, FDs and the rest of the profession. It sparked other merger attempts among the then Big Six and huge resistance from many international affiliates of the two firms involved.
A decade on and the firm is on a sound footing, standing above its rivals in the Accountancy Age Top 50 with fee income beyond £2bn a year, but it wasn't always plain sailing and the merger had a huge impact on the rest of the profession.
This special report explores the long-term implications of the profession's biggest merger and relives how the union came about ten years ago
In a direct response to the threat posed by thier rivals, Ernst & Young and Deloitte also announce a merger strategy, potentially reducing the number of largest firms to just four. Corporate FDs are displeased by the move.
Coopers & Lybrand deny that the merger will mean the loss of 850 partners.
Following a probe of the audit market by the EC, E&Y and Deloitte abandon their plans to merge, prompting 'jubilant' reactions from Coopers and PW. Ian Brindle, then senior partner at PW said the collapse lifted 'the shadow of an ugly spectre' from their own merger plans but admitted that jobs would go.
The two firms are hit by objections from the EC to the merger, but still expect the union to be approved.
Concerns from several European competition authorities on the concentration of audits in the banking and insurance sector threaten to throw a spanner in the merger works
The firms decide on the new name for the merged business – PricewaterhouseCoopers
Final preparations are underway. A new board is announced that shares power equally between the two firms, partners are anticipating a windfall bonus from the merger and one last hurdle is removed with the resignation of Coopers' Spanish chairman whose opposition had threatened to derail the deal. But some believe that partners will always see themselves as belonging to Coopers or PW.
PricewaterhouseCoopers officially comes into existence, but many partners are left in the dark over their new positions and several of Coopers' international affiliates defect to other firms, including Brazil, Chile, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
PwC is confirmed as holding more listed audit clients than any other firm
Following the merger, PwC admits that it has lost three major clients to rivals, including Abbey National and Diageo, with others reviewing their audit arrangements.
PwC announces plans to split the firm up, with the audit, tax and business advisory business being separated from management consultancy and other services.
Following a short-lived relaunch as Monday, PwC Consulting is sold to IBM for $3.9bn
PricewaterhouseCoopers becomes the first UK firm to achieve turnover of more than £2bn in a year, growing more than 50% since the combined firm first posted £1.3bn fees in our 1998 Top 50 survey
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