Mellon in Talks to Buy Unifi Network: Sources

August 16, 2001 ( - Mellon is in talks to buy Unifi Network, PricewaterhouseCoopers' (PWC) human-resources practice, sources close to the talks say.

Unifi’s future has been the subject of industry speculation since PWC executives signaled their intention to unload it early last year.

At that time, PWC said in an announcement that it would spin off into one or more separate businesses the HR practice, management consulting, business-process outsourcing, and corporate-finance services. Staying with PWC would be its audit, business advisory services, and tax practice.

PWC created Unifi in May 2000 from the requisite elements of Price Waterhouse, Coopers & Lybrand, and, most notably, consulting firm Kwasha Lipton.

Had its Problems

Unifi, industry wisdom has it, has been anything but a startling success. It has witnessed a steady outflow of consultants, not least a defection of a number to Buck Consultants (part of Mellon and specifically Mellon Employee Benefit Solutions (MEBS).

MEBS was put together in July 2001 and is now headed by Jude Metcalfe, the highly-regarded ex-Fidelity executive (and, ironically, prior to his joining Fidelity in 1995, a director of Kwasha). It is unclear whether the intent is for Unifi to be part of MEBS or another arm of the amorphous Mellon presence. It is also unclear how the sizeable ex-Kwasha presence at Buck regards these latest twists.

Unifi spokesman Ted Barna refused to comment, telling that word that Unifi is close to a deal “was just a rumor.” Mellon officials declined comment.