Arthur Andersen to Name New CEO Thursday

Embattled accounting giant Arthur Andersen is set to name a new chief executive in London on Thursday, and recently appointed a new leader of its tarnished U.S. arm, sources close to the firm told Reuters on Wednesday.

It was not immediately clear who would replace Andersen CEO Joseph Berardino, who resigned on Tuesday amid fallout from the firm's role in the Enron Corp. (ENE) scandal.

"As I understand it, there will be a meeting of our board of partners, which is the senior administrative body of our worldwide partnership, in London in a few days to talk about succession plans," an Andersen partner in New York told Reuters. 

Sources close to the firm in London said managing partners are to meet in that city on Thursday, with executives flying in from Asia and the United States. 

The main purpose of the meeting is to select an interim chief executive for Andersen Worldwide to replace Berardino, the sources said. 

Andersen is reeling from its role as auditor of Enron, which filed for the largest ever U.S. bankruptcy in December amid concerns about improper accounting. 

The firm now faces an obstruction of justice indictment brought by the U.S. Department of Justice, billion-dollar lawsuits from angry Enron investors and an exodus of prestigious clients. 


In a sign of how the firm's woes are consuming the efforts of its top management, Andersen within the last week named Chicago-based partner Larry Gorrell as head of a new board set up to oversee its U.S. operations, the New York partner said. 

Called the Arthur Andersen LLP Administrative Board, it consists of Gorrell and three other senior partners, each of whom is a regional managing partner, the partner said. 

"I think the theory was that the existing leadership had to devote all their time and energy to working with our lawyers and public relations people in terms of the litigation" and the Justice Department indictment, the partner said. 

Underscoring the chaos surrounding Andersen, Gorrell has hastily scheduled two closed circuit television meetings for Andersen's more than 2,000 U.S. partners, according to an internal memo obtained by Reuters. The first meeting is set for Thursday, and the second is slated for April 2. 

While not specifically mentioning topics for discussion, Gorrell implored the U.S. partners to attend the closed circuit broadcast, despite the "extremely short notice" given them. 

"We encourage you to make time on your schedule to attend both sessions, as this information is critical to all of our Arthur Andersen LLP partners," Gorrell said in the memo. 

Andersen regional managing partners Louis Salvatore and John Neimann are also on Gorrell's board, according the memo.