Top team soothes takeover tensions

PricewaterhouseCoopers UK will launch next week with a management board drawn in equal numbers from each firm, in a move designed to appease Coopers staff fears that the merger will be a Price Waterhouse takeover.

Globally, PW’s greater US strength and its stronger brand name seems to have given it the upper hand in appointments to major posts. ‘That’s why the five or six offices around the world that thought about leaving were all from Coopers,’ said one observer.

In the UK, however, Coopers chairman Peter Smith is to be senior partner, with PW senior partner Ian Brindle as chairman with a seat on the global leadership team.

The four-member UK leadership group is completed by joint managing partners Peter Hazell and Kieran Poynter. Hazell, a Deloitte Haskin & Sells partner before its merger with Coopers & Lybrand in 1990, gained a tough reputation during that link-up.

In the key areas of tax and audit, insiders said the newly merged firm had played to its strengths. PW audit chief Rodger Hughes, who becomes PwC head of audit, brings a roster of blue-chip audit clients.

Paul Boorman, Coopers’ tax managing partner, beat PW’s Bill Harrison-Cripps to become head of tax. Coopers’ reputation for aggressive tax planning will be used to ensure growth in that market for the merged firm.

PW corporate finance chief Keith Tilson takes the top spot in the UK and his Coopers opposite number Geoff Westmore becomes ‘global transactions services leader’. Lynton Barker, head of public sector and middle-market consulting, will head management consultancy in the UK.

Rick Helsby, Coopers’ head of forensic accounting, is expected to head PwC’s forensics unit, but it is not known if he will take charge of PW’s tax investigations department.

See also Visions of the future

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