HP negotiating US$18-billion buyout of consulting firm

Hewlett-Packard Co. and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP confirmed reports Monday that the computer and printer maker is discussing the purchase of the consulting arm of the big five accounting firm.

“Terms of the transaction have not been agreed upon, and significant issues remain to be resolved, but the parties are contemplating a cash-and-stock acquisition at a price in the US$17-billion to $18-billion range,” said HP in a press release.

A PricewaterhouseCoopers spokesman also confirmed the talks, although neither company would divulge specifics about a potential deal. PricewaterhouseCoopers announced in February that it would deconsolidate its business, selling off its consulting segments.

The acquisition would better position HP to help companies adjust to new business processes as they adopt new technology, said HP.

PricewaterhouseCoopers audits HP – a relationship that would end if the deal goes through, the company said.

Shares of HP on the New York Stock Exchange sold at $116.50 in early Monday trading, down $4.50 from Friday’s close of $121.

PricewaterhouseCoopers can be found on the Web at http://www.pwcglobal.com/. HP, in Palo Alto, Calif., can be reached at http://www.hp.com/.