Filed under: Consulting

Visit our Filed page for categories. To browse by specific topic, see our Inside page. For a list of companies covered on this site, visit our Companies page.


Info-tech consultant taps Groupon for half-off deal

A local information technology consulting firm is tapping group-buying site Groupon to offer its services at a steep discount — a $12,500 discount, to be precise.

Rolling Meadows-based Ajilitee, which specializes in analytics and cloud computing, on Tuesday launched a deal on Groupon that offers buyers $25,000 worth of consulting services for $12,500. The firm’s foray into group buying makes them among the first companies to experiment with the technology platform for the business-to-business sector, as Chicago-based Groupon and its rivals primarily offer consumer deals such as discounts on restaurants and salons. Get the full story »

Caterpillar, UAW reach tentative agreement

From the Rockford Register-Star | United Auto Workers representatives said the union has reached a tentative labor agreement with Caterpillar Inc., averting a possible walkout. The UAW says the new, six-year tentative agreement was reached Monday night and will be presented for a ratification vote next weekend.

The agreement would cover some 9,500 hourly production and maintenance workers in Peoria, Aurora, Decatur and Pontiac in Illinois as well as in York, Pa.; Denver; and Memphis, Tenn. | Get the full story>>

Huron Consulting shuffles executive team

Huron Consulting Group Inc., the Chicago-based company formed by partners from collapsed accounting firm Arthur Andersen, said Tuesday that it will rearrange its executive suite this morning, with the goal of “supporting the company’s long-term growth plan.” Get the full story »

Huron Consulting reports 4Q loss of $3.8M

Chicago-based Huron Consulting Group reported a drop in its fourth-quarter earnings on Monday.

In the final three months of 2010, the company reported a net loss of $3.8 million, or a loss of $0.18 per share, compared to earnings of $14.4 million, or $0.71 per share, a year earlier. Get the full story »

Accenture acquires German software firm

Management consulting firm Accenture PLC said Friday it has agreed to acquire a German maker of software that helps consumer products companies manage customer relations and trade promotions. Get the full story »

Huron acquires London’s Trilantic International

Huron Consulting Group expanded its legal consulting unit in Europe and the Middle East with the acquisition of London-based Trilantic International Ltd. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Get the full story »

Huron acquires Click Commerce

Huron Consulting Group Inc. said it has acquired a firm that helps research institutions, hospitals and academic centers manage research and clinical trials. Get the full story »

4Q outlook not kind to Navigant stock

Bloomberg News | “Stable” third-quarter earnings and a forecast for a weaker-than-expected fourth quarter sent shares of Navigant Consulting tumbling in late morning trading. The stock is down 22 percent, to $9.47.

Aon to cut up to 1,800; HQ being ‘worked out’

Aon Corp., a Chicago-based insurance brokerage and consulting firm, said it will cut 1,500 to 1,800 jobs globally over the next three years as part of its merger with Lincolnshire-based personnel consulting company Hewitt Associates.

It also said the headquarters decision for Aon Hewitt — the consulting arm — is “being worked out.” Aon is currently headquartered in one of the tallest buildings in Chicago.

The restructuring of the combined workforce and of the merged firm’s real estate holdings will cost $325 million, of which $180 million will be due to employee severance costs. Get the full story »

Grant Thornton picks up Huron practice

Grant Thornton LLP said it bought the assets of Huron Consulting Group’s disputes and investigations practice for an undisclosed sum. Get the full story »

Aon, Hewitt deal wins EU regulatory approval

U.S. insurance brokerage Aon Corp. won European Union regulatory approval on Tuesday to purchase Hewitt Associates, creating the world’s largest human resources services company. Aon, the world’s largest insurance brokerage, launched the $4.9 billion bid for Hewitt in July. The transaction was referred to the European Commission, the EU’s competition authority, in August. Get the full story »

Hewitt completes deal to acquire EnnisKnupp

Hewitt Associates completed its acquisition of investment advisory firm EnnisKnupp, the company said Thursday.

Terms of the deal, first announced July 20, have not been disclosed.

PriceWaterhouseCoopers grabs Chicago’s Diamond

Clarification: An earlier version of this story reported that a “disgruntled employee” had posed a question to Diamond management during a conference call. The moderator and a transcript of the call had identified the caller as an employee. The company said he was an investor in the company, not employed by Diamond.

In Chicago’s second big consulting industry transaction this summer, PriceWaterhouseCoopers has agreed to acquire Diamond Management & Technology Consultants Inc. for $378 million.

The deal sent Diamond shares soaring Tuesday as the market reacted to news that investors in the Chicago-based firm will receive $12.50 per share in cash, a 31 percent premium to the company’s Monday close of $9.54 a share.

The companies said Diamond’s more than 600 employees worldwide will be folded into PWC’s advisory practice as the New York-based accounting giant seeks to rebuild a consulting business after selling its former consulting unit to International Business Machines Corp. several years ago.

Diamond, which was founded in 1994 by Andersen Consulting veteran Mel Bergstein, will give PWC a board-level strategic consulting practice with a lucrative client base across a variety of industries.

“There’s a clear strategic fit between PWC’s assets and aspirations and Diamond’s positioning,” said Diamond Chief Executive Adam Gutstein during a conference call with investors.

The deal would hand Diamond management, directors and employees around $113 million for their 30 percent stake in the firm. Bergstein would clear $14.2 million for his 4.1 percent stake. Gutstein, who owns around 2 percent of the outstanding shares, would get about $7 million.

Diamond currently occupies the 30th floor and most of the 28th and 29th floors in the John Hancock Center on Michigan Avenue. What will happen to that office, which is largely administrative, has “yet to be determined,” according to Diamond spokesman David Moon. Gutstein said there is some administrative overlap with PWC, but took pains on the call Tuesday to emphasize that the merger is a “growth play” and will ultimately provide greater opportunity for Diamond employees.

The firm employs about 200 people who live in the Chicago area, Moon said, and has offices in New York, Hartford, CT, Washington D.C., London and Mumbai. Consultants make up 527 of the firm’s total employment of around 643, documents show.

The move highlights the economic pressures consulting firms have been facing in recent years. The deal follows Aon Corp.’s $4.9 billion acquisition of Hewitt Associates in July as those companies sought to bolster their strength in the health benefits consulting. Gutstein said a similar strength-through-consolidation logic informed this deal. PWC will give Diamond more global reach, scale and investment resources, he said.

Investor Steve Salopek, the co-portfolio manager of the ING Small Company Fund, pointed out that while Diamond’s business of providing strategic advice to boards of directors has thrown off considerable free cash flow over the years, its stock price has suffered from the firm’s lack of scale.

Diamond had revenue of $177.2 million in its fiscal year ended in March, a 16 percent increase from the year before and has projected another 25 percent increase this year. But its earnings have tended to be volatile, Salopek said, because the firm is small enough to that fluctuations in client billings can have a big impact quarter to quarter.

In the late 1990s, Diamond’s stock soared to around $100 a share as investors flocked to a firm viewed as an Internet play because of its many assignments advising board on how to meet the digital future. But the stock crashed in the post-bubble period and has never come close to recovering those lofty heights. Salopek said investors have penalized it for erratic profits and during the worst of the economic downturn last year, the stock dipped close to $2 a share.

Indeed, the first question on Diamond’s conference call came from a disgruntled investor who said he bought into his position in the company when the stock was at $80 and accused management of “destroying my investment.” Salopek, however, noted that Diamond’s stock price back then was inflated by the market bubble and never should have been that high.

Diamond has been on an upswing recently. Pretax earnings of $15.8 million in fiscal 2010 compared to $3.7 million in 2009. Operating cash flow sprang to $17.4 million from an adjusted level of $4.8 million the year before. Diamond’s client base shrank to 88 in fiscal 2010 from 99 the year before as the number of new clients dropped to 27 from 43. But revenue per professional inched up to $367,000 from $315,000.

Deloitte & Touche names new CEO and chairman

Deloitte & Touche Chairman and CEO Stephen Van Arsdell. (AP)

Stephen C. Van Arsdell, of Naperville, has been named chairman and chief executive officer of Deloitte & Touche LLP, the accounting, auditing, capital markets and risk advisory subsidiary of Deloitte LLP.

Van Arsdell, 60, will be based in Deloitte’s New York office. He most recently served as deputy chief executive officer of Deloitte & Touche with responsibility for the professional practice network, and succeeds Nick Tommasino, who has served as chairman and CEO of Deloitte & Touche since 2006. Get the full story »

Hewitt sets date for vote on Aon merger

Hewitt Associates Inc. on Wednesday established a special meeting date of Sept. 20 for its shareholders to consider its almost $5 billion merger with Aon Corp. and Alps Merger Corp., its wholly owned subsidiary. Get the full story »