EXCLUSIVE – BIG FIVE DISPUTE – Andersens divorce heading for out of

The bitter divorce battle between Arthur Andersen and Andersen Consulting could be settled out of court as early as next month, Accountancy Age has learned. Senior Arthur Andersen partners see last week’s admission by Consulting boss Joe Forehand that he would be willing to enter round table negotiations with AA counterpart Jim Wadia ‘as a significant step’. One senior source said: ‘Arthur Andersen is very interested to know what Forehand is proposing and this split may still be settled out of court. Jim Wadia has already said he would be interested to hear any proposals and enter talks with Joe Forehand. There is likely to be white smoke at the end of April.’ No talks are understood to have been confirmed between the two parties as yet. But if they were to agree a compromise the likely result would be for the two firms to report their agreement to the arbitrator, who would then announce that Consulting had withdrawn its request for arbitration. The olive branch came as Consulting reported a sharp drop in revenue growth last year. Global revenues climbed 8% to $8.9bn for the year to December 31, compared with a 24% rise the previous year. Although Consulting has claimed the dispute with its sister firm has had no effect on its business, some observers say the long-running public dispute has harmed the image of both firms.

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