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  Management consulting firm AT Kearney begins its 80th year as an independent, privately owned management consultancy, having completed its management buy-out from its former parent company, EDS.
Consulting-Times E-zine

A.T. Kearney, which traces its roots back to 1926, the year A.T. Kearney's predecessor firm was founded in Chicago (Andrew Thomas Kearney became a partner in this firm in 1929), was bought by EDS in 1995.

Last year, EDS announced plans to sell the firm, and eventually settled on a management buy-out as the best way to divest the consultancy.

More than 170 senior A.T. Kearney staff from 26 countries participated in the transaction as investors, acquiring 100 percent of the equity in the firm.

Financial details were not disclosed.

In November 2005, when the buy-out agreement was reached, Kearney vice-president Anne Deering, a 20-year veteran of the firm who also chairs the firm’s Officer Leadership Council, which represents the interests of senior staff to top management, said the deal was recognized as a “win-win”.

“You might say that a miracle has happened–independent analysts on both sides have said this is a desirable agreement,” Deering added.

Although a deal has been in the offing for some time, a structure which would satisfy both EDS shareholders without creating an unacceptable debt burden for Kearney partners proved elusive.

“Private ownership is the best model in today's management consulting environment,” said Henner Klein, A.T. Kearney chief executive. “For clients, this means a more focused A.T. Kearney, with officers and staff whose interests are aligned with client success. For officers and staff, it means greater control of our own destiny, with increased incentives for performance and growth.”

The current deal also includes a “multi-year service and marketing deal”, under which Kearney will provide consulting services to both EDS and its clients as part of the transaction.

Board of Directors Elected, 80th Anniversary Observances Planned

An 11-member board of directors elected by the A.T. Kearney officers will serve as the primary governance vehicle for the newly independent firm.

Directors (and their home offices) are: David Asper (Chicago), Johan Aurik (Brussels), Masahiko Fukasawa (Tokyo), Henner Klein (Chicago/Brussels), Dietrich Neumann (Berlin), Mark Page (London), Sieghart Scheiter (Dusseldorf), Markus Stricker (Sao Paulo), Mark Van Weegen (Atlanta), Jeffrey Ward (Alexandria) and John Yoshimura (Singapore).

Klein will serve as chief executive, Asper as chief financial officer and Yoshimura as chief human resources officer.

“Becoming a privately owned firm again as we begin our 80th year creates an opportunity to rededicate ourselves to the values Tom Kearney believed in,” Klein said. “We believe our culture and people differentiate us.”

Klein said A.T. Kearney's approximately 2,500 employees will commemorate the firm's 80th anniversary later this year in each of its 47 offices.

Separately, A.T. Kearney Executive Search has been sold by EDS to an investment group led by Edward Kelley, a former board member and president of European operations for Korn/Ferry International. The vast majority of A.T. Kearney Executive Search's senior management will participate in the transaction and most will be among the firm's new owners.

EDS will retain A.T. Kearney's Maintenance, Repair and Operations Management business, which was not included in the sale.
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