One firm’s regulatory crunch is a private equity firm’s lunch.
PwC agreed Tuesday to sell its mobility consulting division to US PE firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R) for $2.2 billion. It’s the latest disposal by one of the major consultancies, which are under pressure from UK regulators to stamp out conflicts-of-interest in their industry.
PwC’s mobility unit advises about 3,000 organisations across 40 countries on tax and immigration issues when they move staff abroad. While PwC doesn’t disclose revenue or profits for the unit (because it’s bundled in with PwC’s tax and legal division in financial reports), it’s fair to say that activity has slowed in the last 18 months on account of the whole historically unprecedented global pandemic thing.
CD&R clearly believes the mobility business will rebound. Luckily, it caught PwC at a moment when major consultancies have been forced into a shedding spree — that’s because UK regulators banned them from doing advisory work for audit clients after a string of accounting scandals:
- It’s PwC’s biggest sale since it offloaded its consulting division to IBM for $3.5 billion in 2002 amid fallout from the Enron scandal.
- Earlier this year, KMPG sold its UK insolvency division to private equity firm HIG Capital for £350 million to £400 million. Deloitte also offloaded its UK insolvency business to global advisory firm Teneo.
New Plans: PwC and its rivals are pivoting their emphasis to advising clients on two fast-growing sectors: technology and environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. PwC alone plans to spend $12 billion in the next five years as it shifts focus.
Pocketing Proceeds: PwC sold its fintech unit eBam last year and put the proceeds towards its UK partners, who took home a record average payout of £868,000 in the first six months of this year.
Big Deel: CD&R’s new mobility unit will have to contend with a powerful new kid on the block. Remote hiring tech startup Deel, which counts work-from-home savvy firms like Shopify and Coinbase among its clients, said it raised $425 million at a $5.5 billion valuation on Monday.