PwC offloads global mobility services business for $2.2 billion

21 October 2021 2 min. read

US private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice has picked up PwC’s global mobility services unit for a reported $2.2 billion. The practice has a worldwide headcount of around 6,000 professionals.

Serving multinationals in complex cross-border areas such as employee tax, immigration, business travel, and payroll, the practice boasts almost 6,000 dedicated professionals across the globe, with the US and the UK among its larger operations.

“We are excited for the opportunity to become a free-standing organization,” said Peter Clarke, managing partner of PwC's global mobility unit, who will become CEO of the carve-out upon the deal's closure in the first half of next year. “Our partnership with CD&R will allow us to accelerate our technology investments to offer what our clients are asking for: an integrated digital experience across the entirety of the talent mobility ecosystem.”

With much of the world’s workforce grounded over the past eighteen months, the global Covid-19 pandemic put a damper on the global mobility business (which serves more than 3,000 multinational clients worldwide), but is seen by its purchasers as a significant opportunity with respect to the increased complexity around international movement and taxation, especially as borders begin to reopen.

“The return of business travel, emerging mobile work patterns, and the heightened need for compliance in a complex business and regulatory environment will drive significant need for a globally integrated provider with a sophisticated digital platform,” said former Aon Hewitt CEO Russ Fradin, a partner at CD&R who will take on the role of chairman at the new company – which is set to be re-branded on completion.

It is the largest sale by PwC since it offloaded its former consulting business to IBM for $3.5 billion in 2002. PwC has since rebuilt its consulting practice (the firm’s advisory division now contributes ~$17 billion to annual revenues), while IBM incidentally re-branded its Global Business Services line to IBM Consulting this past week.

“The best interests of our clients, people, and partners have been at the forefront of this transaction and I'm confident that, with CD&R's backing, the new business will be well equipped to grow and meet the developing needs of its clients of all sizes and in all segments around the world,” said PwC global chairman Bob Moritz. “This sale will allow PwC to increase its investment in and prioritize building capabilities relevant to our global strategy.”

PwC’s new strategy, known as ‘The New Equation’, has committed $12 billion in investments over the next five years in keeping the firm’s business model and services future-proof. The Big Four giant also plans to add 100,000 people in this period.