LONDON – Andersen Worldwide SC has named an acting chief executive to try to manage the dismemberment of its non-U.S. operations, which are splitting off to merge with rival accounting firms in country after country.
Aldo Cardoso, managing partner of Andersen's affiliate in France, will take over immediately, Andersen Worldwide said Thursday. He succeeds Joe Berardino, who resigned last week as chief executive of the crisis-ridden business.
Cardoso's key duty as acting CEO will be to direct an orderly process in which individual member firms of Andersen Worldwide can merge with willing competitors to ensure their survival.
"This new role is a natural extension of my responsibilities as chairman of the Andersen Worldwide board of partners," he said. "I will continue to work with our partners around the world to help them achieve as quickly as possible the best outcome for their people and their clients."
Andersen's 18-member management board appointed the 46-year-old Cardoso at a meeting in London. He was the clear favorite for the job, a company spokeswoman said.
Berardino stepped down after a U.S. federal grand jury indicted Andersen's U.S. arm on a charge of obstruction of justice for allegedly destroying documents related to failed energy trader Enron Corp. Andersen Worldwide includes Arthur Andersen LLP, the U.S. company that audited Enron's financial records.
Andersen conceded defeat Tuesday in its strategy of merging its non-U.S. operations en masse with those of rival "Big Five" accountancy KPMG, after Andersen's lucrative Spanish affiliate agreed on a separate deal with another accounting firm, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu.
Andersen Espana was the group's first Western European unit to go its own way in trying to secure its future. As a key component of Andersen's regional network, its defection effectively killed off any remaining chance of a global merger with KPMG.
Since then, Andersen's affiliates in Singapore and Thailand have struck separate agreements to merge with accounting rivals. Andersen Singapore and Ernst & Young announced merger plans Wednesday, while Andersen's unit in Thailand became the first to agree to combine with its KPMG counterpart.
Talks aimed at a union of Andersen Benelux and KPMG in Belgium have ended in failure, with KPMG rejecting any merger on an equal basis, Belgium's De Financieel Economische Tijd reported Thursday.
Elsewhere, Andersen's affiliates in Hong Kong and China plan to merge with PricewaterhouseCoopers, while Andersen units in Russia, Australia and New Zealand are arranging to merge with Ernst & Young.
Andersen Worldwide employs 85,000 people at its 84 member firms.