PwC Consultants Say Goodbye to Audit Colleagues

The honeymoon may not be over in IBM's acquisition of PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting (PwCC), but it's definitely the morning after. Former PwC consultants said farewell to their audit colleagues this week with their heads held high, even though their pay and perks had been cut and their long-awaited initial public offering turned out to be just a dream.

Pay cuts for PwCC partners averaged about 20%. Partners also gave up their club memberships. But staff didn't lose their vacation entitlements as they had feared, and job losses were not as severe as expected. Despite rumors of massive layoffs, the Wall Street Journal reports that PwCC let go only 200 of the firm's 1,200 consulting partners. All the rest joined IBM as of October 2, 2002.

Then, too, there were stock option awards and long-term incentives for consultants to stay with IBM. The Journal reports that PwCC professionals earning salaries in the $100,000 range had their base pay cut 10%, but they got performance-based incentives that could top the $10,000 they lost. Additionally, as part of the purchase, the partners split $800 million in IBM stock and convertible notes, which vested at the closing but are payable only in equal amounts over five years.

To help ensure a successful integration, IBM is reorganizing its new services unit by industry, the way PwCC was organized, and it is adopting PwC Consulting's method of tracking employees' skills. Best of all, PwCC partners will be able to keep that title within IBM, even though IBM formerly had no such designation.

"They're the asset," said Ginni Rometty, the IBM executive named to lead IBM's huge new Business Consulting Services unit. "You don't want to do a hostile takeover of people."

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