£14bn bid for PwC consulting business

In negotiations taking place on Saturday evening, HP and PwC are understood to have made significant progress on a number of issues, although no written agreement has been signed.

The talks follow PwC’s decision earlier this year to spin off its consultancy arm. Big Five accountancy firms have been under pressure from the US Securities & Exchange Commission to separate their consultancy and audit services to avoid so-called conflicts of interest.

PwC originally set a July 2000 deadline for the separation but was then forced to admit that this target had been unrealistic. In June, the firm’s managing partner Kieran Poynter told Accountancy Age the split would most likely occur towards the end of the year. He also said the management consultancy and the growing business process outsourcing division, would become independent.

HP was chosen from a list of companies including electrical and engineering giant Siemens and General Electric. PwC’s reluctance to move to exclusive talks with any party could spark a bidding war between interested parties.

HP chief executive Carly Fiorina is seeking to grow HP’s consulting services business and is already offering them to potential buyers of the company?s computer systems.

Any deal would require the approval of PwC’s partners and would be likely to need the consent of the SEC.

The US offices of Hewlett-Packard and PwC have so far been unable to comment.



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