Andersen will sell most of risk-consulting unit

Robert Half, the buyer, to absorb over 800 people

April 25, 2002|By BLOOMBERG NEWS

NEW YORK - Arthur Andersen LLP agreed yesterday to sell most of its risk-consulting business to staffing company Robert Half International Inc. as the accounting firm comes apart after client defections and a criminal charge.

As many as 70 partners and about 800 employees will transfer, Robert Half said. Neither firm disclosed the value of the deal.

Andersen also is in talks to sell its management-consulting unit, with more than 300 partners and 5,000 employees, to KPMG Consulting Inc., people familiar with the talks said.

Andersen, Enron Corp.'s auditor for 16 years, is shedding tax and consulting businesses as part of a rescue plan by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker. The firm has been abandoned by clients and overseas affiliates since it was indicted on a charge of obstructing a U.S. investigation of Enron.

Robert Half, based in Menlo Park, Calif., provides full-time, temporary and project personnel to accounting, finance, information-technology and advertising companies. Internal-audit staff, who prepare financial statements, and financial-risk consulting staff from Andersen will become part of a newly named group, Robert Half said in a statement.

Robert Half will pay Andersen to release partners from their noncompete clauses, Robert Half chief executive Harold Messmer said on a conference call. "We think they have strong client relationships, and we hope they will bring some of these relationships with them."

The deal will be completed as early as Tuesday, Andersen said. "It will provide our people with career opportunities and our clients with continued quality service," said C.E. Andrews, an Andersen managing partner.

Andersen has agreed to sell a portion of its tax business to rival Deloitte & Touche LLP and audit offices in cities including Denver, Seattle, Los Angeles and Salt Lake City to KPMG, people familiar with the talks said. Audit partners in other cities are in talks to join rivals and take staff and clients with them.

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