Insiders say rival may buy Andersen: Facing the defection of employees and clients as it struggles under the weight of a potential criminal indictment, Andersen is in negotiations to sell itself to another Big Five accounting firm, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, and an announcement of a deal could come as soon as this week, said people involved in the discussions. The talks between the two accounting giants were said to have begun in earnest last week, about the time Andersen learned that it faced indictment on charges of obstruction of justice in the Enron investigation as a result of the large-scale destruction of documents last fall in its Houston offices.
What I would like to know is ... has Deloitte Touche lost their corporate minds?
Seriously, why on earth would you want to buy Andersen NOW? Granted, the sooner you buy it and purge its name from the accounting rolls, the more likely you are to stem the loss of clients and personnel. (Mind, the chances of Andersen personnel not being purged in a merger, both because of salary savings and because there are a lot of accountants who seem to have fallen down on the job, is fairly small.) That said, if you buy the firm now, you inherit the obstruction of justice charges, you inherit the lawsuits from Enron and whatever that other major corporate bankruptcy was (Global Crossing? don't remember if that was Andersen or Pricewaterhouse), you inherit all sorts of government fines .... and the question has to be, is Andersen's internal consulting business worth the pain that the accounting arm will bring? (It's almost a certainty that the pure accounting functions will be shut down, both due to redundancy and the bad publicity.) How could you assume the assets and NOT assume the liabilities? Any sensible lawyer, seeing this taking place, will surely attempt to attach Andersen's assets so that they can't be dismembered in the way that Deloitte Touche wants.
A very sad ending after 90 years in business, but they brought it on themselves.
UPDATE: Apparently Accenture is considered a completely separate company, and not part of Andersen's assets. There's a separate internal piece called Andersen Consulting (which used to be Accenture's name, way back when) that does the sort of thing for ARthur Andersen that Accenture used to do. Pardon the confusion.Posted by iain at March 11, 2002 12:22 PM