Accounting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP said chief executive James J. Schiro is stepping down.
Schiro was CEO of Price Waterhouse since 1997. He presided over the 1998 merger of Price Waterhouse and Coopers & Lybrand, which resulted in the formation of the world’s largest accounting firm.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Schiro’s departure may reflect the unrest that has developed in the accounting industry over the last few years, particularly regarding the issue of separting firms’ accounting and consulting practices. Though he accomplished most of what he had set out to do as CEO, Schiro was unsuccessful in separating PwC’s consulting and accounting businesses. The most noteable example of this was his failure to sell PwC’s consulting division to Hewlett-Packard Co. last year.
The Journal says there was some frustration of PwC partners’ over the inability to effect this separation, especially while the tech industry was booming. Still, PwC officials maintain that it was Schiro’s own decision to leave, and that the choice had nothing to do with the firm’s dissatisfaction with the separation issue.
Schiro will stay on until the firm chooses his successor. The search could take longer than it would at a corporation because of PwC’s partnership structure, he said, which requires that the firm makes such decisions from a “consensus standpoint.”