PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) aligns with Hewlett-Packard (HP) this week to develop solutions for the airline industry. Rumors immediately fly that HP is pulling out the engagement ring that PwC reluctantly returned to the computer maker six months ago.

Will they or won’t they? The suspense… the drama… oh please!

PwC global managing partner Scott Hartz preannounced the consulting unit split earlier this year; the partners set a July deadline to make the decision. Either option involves a “P” for PwC: being purchased by a hardware company (i.e., HP) or going public.

PwC has been watching KPMG Consulting quite closely and knows that analysts will bestow similar affection on the firm. PwC may actually match or exceed KPMG because PwC can show a solid European presence. A little less than half of PwC’s $6.6 billion in 2000 consulting revenues came from Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

The firm characterizes itself as a strategy organization with technological underpinnings. Hartz says customer relationship management (CRM) will be the main focus this coming year, and the firm’s Business Process Outsourcing group is soaring. Hence, most investments will cater to those areas.

Given such indicators—and factoring in the messy integration issues that result from an acquisition—an IPO is much more likely. Three years removed from its own merger, it’s doubtful that PwC will want to subject itself to another restructuring.

Granted, an acquisition by HP was never completely off the table; those types of deals are politely pushed to the far edge. Maybe this latest dalliance rekindled the romance between two wistful lovers. Maybe the paramours will surprise us with a summer wedding.

Then again, we all know that only fools fall in love.

Heard on the street
Milliman & Robertson (M&R), an international group of 22 actuarial and consulting firms, announced the formation of Milliman Global, a worldwide platform for serving the insurance, employee benefits, and healthcare industries. M&R also announced that it is renaming itself “Milliman USA” and that it has opened a full-service London office—Milliman UK Ltd.—that is focused on financial services and includes the insurance practice of London-based Hymans Robertson.

About the author

Inside Consulting is written by Tom Rodenhauser as a free weekly supplement to The Rodenhauser Report. The report informs senior advisors and business executives of consulting trends and best practices. Subscription cost is $295 per year for 10 issues. Copyright 2001, Consulting Information Services, LLC. Reproduction is prohibited. Quotation with attribution is encouraged.