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The PW logo before the 1998 merger
The C&L logo before the merger

PricewaterhouseCoopers (or PwC) is one of the world's largest professional services firms. It was formed in 1998 from a merger between Price Waterhouse and Coopers & Lybrand, both formed in London.

PricewaterhouseCoopers earned aggregated worldwide revenues of $28 billion for fiscal 2008, and employed over 146,000 people in 150 countries.

In the United States, where it is the fifth largest privately owned organization, it operates as PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.

PricewaterhouseCoopers is a Big Four auditor, alongside KPMG, Ernst & Young and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu.


The firm was created by the merger of two large firms Price Waterhouse and Coopers & Lybrandmarker in 1998. These two firms each have histories dating back to the nineteenth century.

Price Waterhouse

Samuel Lowell Price, an accountant, started his practice in London in 1849. In 1865 Price went into partnership with William Hopkins Holyland and Edwin Waterhouse. Holyland left shortly after to work alone in accountancy and the firm was known from 1874 as Price, Waterhouse & Co. (The '& Co' and comma was dropped from the name much later.) The original partnership agreement, signed by Price, Holyland and Waterhouse could be found in Southwark Towersmarker, one of PwC's important legacy offices (now under demolition) in London.

By the late nineteenth century, Price Waterhouse had gained significant recognition as an accounting firm. As a result of trade between the United Kingdom and the United States of Americamarker, Price Waterhouse opened an office in New Yorkmarker in 1890, and the American firm itself soon expanded rapidly. The original British firm opened an office in Liverpoolmarker in 1904 and then elsewhere in the United Kingdom and countries abroad, each time establishing a separate partnership in each country: the worldwide practice of PW was therefore a federation of collaborating firms that had grown organically rather than being the result of an international merger.

In a further effort to take advantage of economies of scale, PW and Arthur Andersen had discussed a merger in 1989 but the negotiations failed mainly because of conflicts of interest such as Andersen's strong commercial links with IBM and PW's audit of IBM.

Coopers & Lybrand

In 1854 William Cooper established his own practice in London, which became Cooper Brothers seven years later when his three brothers joined.

In the USA in 1898, Robert H. Montgomery, William M. Lybrand, Adam A. Ross Jr. and his brother T. Edward Ross formed Lybrand, Ross Brothers and Montgomery. Coopers & Lybrand is the result of a merger in 1957 between Cooper Brothers & Co; Lybrand, Ross Bros & Montgomery and a Canadian firm McDonald, Currie and Co. In 1990 in certain countries including the UK Coopers & Lybrand merged with Deloitte Haskins & Sells to become Coopers & Lybrand Deloitte, in 1992 renamed Coopers & Lybrand.

The merger

In 1998, Price Waterhouse merged with Coopers & Lybrand to form PricewaterhouseCoopers (written with a lowercase 'w') in an attempt to gain a scale that would put the new firm in a different league.

Recent history

By the late 1990s the firm had created a large professional consulting branch, as did other major accountancy firms, generating much of its fees. Management Consulting Services (MCS) was the fastest growing and often most profitable area of the practice, though it was cyclical. The major cause for growth in the Nineties was the implementation of complex integrated ERP systems such as SAP R/3 for multi-national companies.

However, PwC came under increasing pressure to avoid conflicts of interests by not providing consulting services to its audit clients. Since it audited a large proportion of the world's largest companies, this was beginning to limit its potential market. These conflicts were going to increase when additional services such as the outsourcing of ERP systems were offered. For these reasons, in 2000, Ernst & Young was the first of the Big Four to sell its consulting services, to Capgemini.

PwC therefore planned to capitalize on MCS's rapid growth through its sale to Hewlett Packard (for a reported $17 billion) but negotiations broke down in 2000.

PwC announced in May 2002 that its consulting activities would be spun off as an independent entity. An outside consultancy, Wolff Olins, was hired to create a brand image for the new entity, called "Monday:" . The firm's CEO, Greg Brenneman described the unusual name as "a real word, concise, recognizable, global and the right fit for a company that works hard to deliver results." These plans were soon revised, however. In October 2002, PricewaterhouseCoopers sold the entire consultancy business to IBM for approximately $3.9 billion in cash and stock. PwC's consultancy business was absorbed into IBM Global Business Services, increasing the size and capabilities of IBM's growing consulting practice.

Global structure

The legal structure of a limited liability partnership is very different to that of a company, and as such the global firm is in fact a collection of member firms, that are run autonomously in their respective jurisdictions. The senior partners of member firms sit on a global board of partner and there is also an 'umbrella' organisation called PricewaterhouseCoopers International Limited, a UK-based company which provides co-ordination. Dennis Nally, the former Chairman of the US firm, became Chairman of PwC International on July 1, 2009.



PricewaterhouseCoopers has three main service lines:
  • Assurance,
  • Tax, (international tax planning and compliance with local tax laws, human resourcing consulting transfer pricing)
  • Advisory - mainly consulting activities which covers Strategy, Performance Improvement, Transactions Services, Business Recovery Services, Corporate Finance, Business Valuation, and Crisis Management in a range of specialist areas such as accountancy and actuarial advisory.

PwC's service lines face the market in each country by broad industry specializations such as:
  • Consumer and Industrial Products and Service (CIPS),
  • Financial Services (FS),
  • Technology, Information, Communications and Entertainment (TICE),
  • Infrastructure, Government and Utilities (IG&U)
These sub-divisions may vary slightly in some territories.

Consulting activities

PwC has developed several broader consulting initiatives in the Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) framework, including a global effort to assist corporations with outsourcing, as well as a global political risk assessment with the political risk advisory firm Eurasia Groupmarker.

Advisory services offered by PwC also include two actuarial consultancy departments; Actuarial and Insurance Management Solutions (AIMS) and a sub branch of "Human Resource Services" (HRS). Actuarial covers mainly 4 areas: pensions, life insurance, non-life insurance and investments. AIMS deals with life and non-life insurance and investments while HRS deals mainly with pensions.

PwC serves the U.S. Federal Government through their Public Sector practice. PwC has over 2000 professionals based in the Washington Metro Corridor.

PwC Japan's Assurance (Audit) Service

The member firm and a network firm provided auditing services in Japan. Misuzu dissolved in July, 2007.

From 2000 to 2006, PwC's affiliate of assurance service in Japan was . In May 2006, the Financial Services Agency suspended ChuoAoyama following a suspicious audit of cosmetics company Kanebo in which three of the firm's partners allegedly assisted with accounting fraud and boosted earnings for the company by about $1.9 billion over the course of five years. The accountants involved were reprimanded by the Tokyo District Court but escaped prison time after a judge deemed them to have played a "passive role" in the crime.

Shortly after the suspension of ChuoAoyama, PwC acted quickly to stem any possible client attrition as a result of the scandal. It set up the PricewaterhouseCoopers Aarata, and some of ChuoAoyama's accountants (but most of the international divisions) moved to the new firm. ChuoAoyama resumed operations on September 1st under the Misuzu name. However, by this point the two firms combined had 30% fewer clients than did ChuoAoyama prior to its suspension.

Major clients

Europe and North America account for about 81% of PwC's annual revenue, with Europe alone accounting for 45%. The firm's dominant practice, namely auditing, accounts for over 50% of PwC's revenue.

As of March 2005, PricewaterhouseCoopers' audit clients included four of the 10 largest public companies in the United States (ExxonMobil, Ford Motor Company, ChevronTexaco and IBM). PwC also audits four of the 10 largest companies in the United Kingdom (GlaxoSmithKline, Royal Dutch Shell, Barclays and Lloyds TSB).

One client, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, gives PwC the unique distinction of having been (in various incarnations) the tabulator and certifier of votes for the Academy Awards since 1934.

PwC audits 40 per cent of companies in the FTSE 100 Index and 45 per cent of the Fortune 1000 energy companies.

The following are PwC audit clients that are part of the FT Global 500 (2006), grouped by FT industry:

Name and branding

The firm's name arises out of the merger of Price Waterhouse and Coopers & Lybrand in 1998.


Because PricewaterhouseCoopers' only product is the output of its employees, the firm has a competitive recruiting program. PricewaterhouseCoopers was recently included in Fortune s "100 Best Companies to Work For" list, coming in at number 58 in 2009. In the UK the company has been voted number one in the Times Top 100 Graduate Employers for 5 consecutive years. PricewaterhouseCoopers is one of the top 10 companies for working mothers. In October 2008, PricewaterhouseCoopers was named one of "Canada's Top 100 Employers" by Mediacorp Canada Inc., and was featured in Maclean's newsmagazine. Later that month, PricewaterhouseCoopers was also named one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers, which was announced by the Toronto Star newspaper. PricewaterhouseCoopers in Ireland was named as the winner of the Best Company to Work for in Ireland 2008 by the Great Place to Work Institute in their annual list of Ireland's top employers.


Tyco settlement

In July 2007, PwC agreed to pay $225 million to settle a class-action lawsuit brought by shareholders of Tyco International Ltd. over a multibillion-dollar accounting fraud.

Satyam case

Recently, PwC was criticised, along with the promoters of Satyam, an Indian IT firm listed on the NYSEmarker, in a $1.5 billion fraud. PwC has written a letter to the board of directors of Satyam that its audit may be rendered "inaccurate and unreliable" due to the disclosures made by Satyam's (ex) Chairman. PwC's U.S. arm "was the reviewer for the U.S. filings for Satyam." Consequently, lawsuits have been filed in the U.S. with PwC as a defendant. Two PricewaterhouseCoopers partners, Srinivas Talluri and S. Gopalakrishnan, have been detained by the police in India for further questioning in connection with the fraud investigation at Satyam.

Other punishments and criticisms

India's accounting standards agency ICAI is investigating partners of PwC for professional negligence in the now-defunct Global Trust Bank Ltd. case of 2007. Like Satyam, Global Trust Bank was also based in Hyderabadmarker. This led to Reserve Bank of Indiamarker banning PwC from auditing any financial company for over a year. PwC was also associated with the accounting scandal at DSQ Software in India. In July 2006, PwC’s Japanese affiliate Chuo Aoyama was handed a two-month ban. Following the Satyam scandal, the Mumbai-based Small Investor Grievances Association (SIGA) has requested the Indian stock market regulator SEBI to ban PwC permanently and seize its assets in India alleging few more scandals like "Ketan Parekh stock manipulations." The Accountancy and Actuarial Discipline Board, which regulates the profession in the UK, announced an inquiry in July 2009 into PwC's auditing of Cattles, the struggling sub-prime lender that failed to keep track of its bad debts.


PricewaterhouseCoopers has been a sponsor of the Dutchmarker football team.

PricewaterhouseCoopers is also a sponsor of the PGA Tour's unofficial 5th major, The Players Championship, at TPC Sawgrassmarker.

Notable current and former employees


Politics and public service


See also


  1. PWC History and milestones
  2. PricewaterhouseCoopers 2008 revenues rose 10% to $28.2 billion
  3. PWC Global Annual Review 2007 Page 39
  4. Forbes - The Largest Private Companies
  5. University of Washington: Accounting firms and organisations
  6. ICAEW family trees
  7. Price Waterhouse and Coopers & Lybrand to merge Weekly Corporate Growth Report 29 September 1997
  8. Ernst & Young sells consulting unit to Cap Gemini Cnet News, 29 February 2000
  9. Hewlett-Packard drops PWC bid BBC News, 13 November 2000
  10. Monday:
  11. Monday name change for PwC, BBC News, June 10, 2002.
  12. IBM buying PricewaterhouseCoopers' consulting business Technology, 31 July 2002
  13. PricewaterhouseCoopers International Limited
  14. PWC Global Review 2007 Page 34
  15. PWC: CIPS
  16. PWC: FS
  17. PWC: TICE
  18. PWC: G&PS
  19. PWC: How managing political risk improves global financial performance
  20. Actuarial & Insurance Management Solutions
  21. Public Sector practice
  22. CPAs in Kanebo fraud avoid prison, The Japan Times (registration required), Aug. 10, 2006.
  23. Rocky road for new accounting firm, The Daily Yomiuri, Sep. 2, 2006.
  24. PricewaterhouseCoopers to safeguard Hollywood's biggest secret for 72nd year
  25. KPMG closes FTSE 100 gap on PWC Accountancy Age, 13 December 2007
  26. PWC: Energy, utilities and mining
  27. Fortune: Best companies to work for
  28. Times Top 100 Graduate Employers
  29. Working Mother
  30. Pricewaterhouse to pay $225 mln in Tyco settlement
  31. Satyam scandal rattles confidence in accounting Big Four
  32. PwC's fate Hangs in Balance
  33. ICAI to seek explanation from Satyam’s auditor PwC
  34. Satyam auditor says examining chairman's statement
  35. What happens to PWC, The Auditor For Satyam?
  36. Satyam: Auditors' body to pull up PwC ICAI to seek explanation from Satyam’s auditor PwC
  37. Satyam: A Rs 7,000cr Lie
  38. PWC says Satyam audit opinions may be unreliable
  39. Satyam Said to Draw SEC Scrutiny in Accounting Case
  40. Pomerantz Law Firm Charges Satyam's Auditors With Securities Law Violations
  41. Price Waterhouse Partners Detained in Satyam Investigation
  42. Two Price Waterhouse auditors held
  43. RBI lifts ban on PwC
  44. PwC has a chequered past with taxmen
  45. Regulator may blacklist Price Waterhouse
  46. Third mess-up by PwC after GTB, DSQ Soft
  47. Investor group wants Sebi to supersede Satyam board
  48. Regulator probes PwC over Cattles audit
  49. PricewaterhouseCoopers supports Dutch football team
  50. Players Championship Tournament Sponsors
  51. OLPC News

Further reading

  • True and Fair: A History of Price Waterhouse, Jones, E., 1995, Hamish Hamilton, ISBN 0-241-00172-2
  • An Early History of Coopers & Lybrand, 1984, Garland Publishing Inc., ISBN 978-0824063191

External links

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