EY is considering splitting its audit and advisory divisions, including through a public listing or partial sale of its global advisory branch, which would have been the biggest shocks of the Big Four accounting firm since the collapse of US energy company Enron in 2001.
The rift between Ms. Grier and Mr. Di Sibio preceded the planning of a possible breakup, said a person familiar with the matter.
However, tensions between the company’s two most powerful executives with 312,000 employees highlight the difficulties that Mr Di Sibio and his colleagues face in building a consensus in favor of such a plan among its 13,000 partners worldwide.
Relationships have “deteriorated rapidly”
Mrs. Grier has “always been particularly partisan of the American company,” said one person who knew about the relationship. “She wanted to have a much bigger say for the American company in a global setting.”
EY’s U.S. business accounted for more than 40 percent of the company’s $ 40 billion ($ 56 billion) in worldwide sales last year.
Another person said Ms. Grier asked why EY Global needed so much power and resources. “Relations with Carmine have deteriorated rapidly,” the person added.
EY’s top worldwide work has always been held by an American, and Mrs. Grier was considered a candidate to replace Mr. Di Sibio in this role until his first four-year term in June 2023 ended. Mr. Di Sibio is considered the “administrator” of some colleagues after the departure of Mark Weinberger in 2019 after six years.
Ms. Grier – also EY’s chair and managing partner for the Americas, the largest of its three geographical segments – has stepped up her efforts to stand up to Mr. Di Sibia’s successor, some people who know the tension between the couples have said.
“She flew too close to the sun and burned her wings,” one of them said.
Mr Di Sibio remains “well connected to the American partnership,” meaning that Mrs. Grier may have had trouble winning the re-election if she succeeded, said another person who had been briefed.
In the statement on Financial TimesEY said Ms Grier’s decision to leave “was her choice.” In February, EY announced that Julie Boland, the managing partner of its central US region, had won the election of American partners to replace Ms. Grier.
Some people at the company said EY had tried to limit the impact of Ms. Grier’s decision not to seek re-election, and one said the company had “tried to erase the fact that it had been hit” by transferring power to Boland.
Ms Grier’s lawyers were in correspondence with EY about her departure, people familiar with the matter said. It was common for lawyers to leave with lawyers and legal correspondence was concluded, one person said.
EY said Ms. Grier was “successful” and credited her with “significant revenue growth and record profits while achieving the highest audit quality results.”
EY said last week that “no decisions had been made” on whether to continue the restructuring.
Mrs Grier and Mr Di Sibio declined to comment.
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