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Satyam fraud hit brand, not biz: PwC
March, 30th 2010

Branding yes, but business no. Thats how PwC global chairman Dennis Nally sees the impact of the Satyam fraud on the Indian operations of the worlds largest professional services organisation.

Speaking to TOI, Nally, on his first visit to Kolkata since he took over as the chairman, pointed out that while Price Waterhouses (a PwC network firm) name being dragged into Indias biggest corporate fraud did have a negative impact on the PwC brand, the controversy did not result in a large number of its clients either walking away or driving harder bargains.

Clients remained tremendously loyal. The Satyam issue did not have any effect on rates (PwC charges), Nally said, explaining that a series of steps taken by the organisation to boost internal controls, including devising a new approach to assess risks, has gone down well with the clients. Conversations about economics become a lot easier when you are in a longstanding relationship, he said.

However, Nally said that despite the best of controls, frauds could still take place if company managements were intent on following unfair business practices. You can never completely eliminate the possibility of material fraud.

He underlined PwCs desire to more than double its headcount in Kolkatas tech hub Salt Lake from 2,000 to 5,000 in three years and set up one of three proposed shared services centres worldwide in the city.

Nally, who has decided to visit India once in every three months as part of PwCs enhanced focus on emerging markets, said the organisation remains open to the idea of acquiring smaller firms to expand its reach. We still want to acquire talent and companies and there is no change in that thought process.

PwC intends to ramp up its India headcount to 10,000 within three to five years from about 6,400-6,500 currently. India presently contributes 2% to the global business. We want to raise this figure to 5% within five years, PwC India chairman Gautam Banerjee said. As on date, the India practice of PwC is a quarter of the size of the one in China. PwC is rolling out a new India plan to fast-track growth, he added.

Nally said one should not read too much into the appointment of a new deputy chairman for the Indian operations as well as the setting up of an advisory council for the country as business needs are dynamic and change with time. Although PwC India always had a chairman and an MD, the organisation did not have a deputy chairman till the Raju fraud cast a shadow on its functioning.

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