SEC Closing in on Choice For Chief Accountant

The Securities and Exchange Commission has indicated that its top choice for the position of chief accountant is Donald T. Nicolaisen, senior partner at Big Four firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The role of chief accountant was formerly held by Robert Herdman who resigned last November in protest over the appointment of William Webster as chairman of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board. Jackson Day briefly served as chief accountant during the SEC's leadership transition from Harvey Pitt to the current chairman, William H. Donaldson. Mr. Day left the SEC to return to the private sector in March 2003.

An official announcement has not yet been made, but The Wall Street Journal has reported that sources familiar with the SEC selection process have confirmed that Mr. Nicolaisen will be offered the position. According to SEC spokeswoman Laura Cox, SEC Chairman Donaldson and the SEC staff "have gone through an extensive search." She quoted Mr. Donaldson as saying, "Our objective is to find the right people, not simply to fill the position."

Mr. Nicolaisen has served as national director of accounting services at PwC's national office in New York City. He joined Price Waterhouse in 1967 after graduating from the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater.

Should Mr. Nicolaisen accept the post of SEC chief accountant, he will have to disqualify himself from working with SEC issues involving PwC and its clients for at least one year.

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