Accenture Votes for IPO

Accenture Ltd. announced April 19 that its 2,500 partners voted overwhelmingly to pursue an initial public offering of stock.

The technology and management consulting firm based in Hamilton, Bermuda, employs more than 70,000 people in 46 countries. It is the world's largest consultancy.

The company hopes to raise $1 billion through an offering of class A common shares. Accenture filed a registration statement April 19 with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, but no date has been set for the offering. The number of shares and the price range will be disclosed in a later filing.

Accenture will apply for a listing on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol ACN. New York firms Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co will issue the shares.

"Our partners' decision reflects our organization's commitment to enhance our long-term growth, strengthen our ability to deliver the highest-value solutions to our clients and continue to provide competitive rewards to motivate and attract the best people," said Joe Forehand, Accenture's chief executive and managing partner.

According to the SEC filing, the money raised by the IPO may cover expenses resulting from the corporate transition, including the repayment of short-term borrowings; for working capital, which was previously provided by the partners; or for general corporate purposes.

Formerly Andersen Consulting, Accenture split from its parent company, Andersen Worldwide of Chicago, last summer. It has moved to go public at a hard time for IPOs amid reduced corporate spending and stock market volatility.

More than 90 companies from different industries have abandoned IPOs since the start of the year. Rival KPMG Consulting Inc. of McLean, Va., raised $2 billion with an IPO of $18 per share in February. Its shares closed April 19 at $16.31 on Nasdaq.

Accenture's posture is positive, however.

"While we are now seeing some evidence of a business slowdown in some markets, we have not yet observed tangible signs of a contraction in our business," the SEC filing said.

Accenture had sales of $10.8 billion for the 12 months ended Feb. 28, according to the filing. Its compound annual growth rate in revenue has been 17.9 percent over the last 10 fiscal years.

However, the filing said Accenture expects to record a substantial net loss in the fiscal quarter ended Aug. 31, 2000, mainly because of a $600 million cost to transition to a corporate structure. Its partners will continue to control the company after the IPO. No partners are selling shares in the offering.

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