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The Week That Was — Sort Of

No room at the inn for accountants, while KPMG came out smelling like a rose. Plus other choice picks.

Editor’s Note: This is the first installment of a new weekly column from CFO.com. It’s called “Good Week/Bad Week,” and it’s a real simple concept. Each and every Friday, we’ll present our picks of the winners and losers in finance during the previous five days. Who had a good week, and who had a bad week.

Since there’s no empirical way to make such picks, we’re sure we’ll get some disagreements with our choices. Let us know what you think, but please, no stalking.

It was a GOOD WEEK for:

1. KPMG
Not only did the Big Five firm pick up several more Andersen clients this week (along with partners in AA’s New York and Philadelphia offices), but the accountancy also managed to come out looking good in the gathering Adelphia storm.

How can anyone come out smelling sweet where Adelphia is concerned, you ask? Simple: KPMG has not yet signed off on the cable-company’s 2001 books. Not having signed off on an large client’s books — particularly one that appears to have plenty of explaining to do — practically qualifies as a profile in courage in the auditing business.

2. Lawrence Zimmerman
On Monday, this former IBM executive was hired by Xerox as its new CFO. While Zimmerman inherits a tough gig at Xerox, it appears the worst may be behind the document people.

If that’s the case, and Xerox starts reporting better — or at least more accurate — numbers, Zimmerman could come out looking golden. And the new Xerox chief finance officer has plenty of experience with turnarounds. Zimmerman worked at Big Blue when it was Totally Blue. Indeed, he played a big role in restructuring IBM in the mid-1990s. “The media never gave Larry much credit for his role in IBM restructuring,” IBM CFO Jerome York told the New York Times “But in fact he was one of the key people who fixed up IBM.”

3. Investment Bankers

Following weeks of accusations that research conducted by Wall Street houses is mostly done to drum up investment banking business, the white-shoe set finally had something to cheer about this week.

According to a new study conducted by Accenture, nearly 30 percent of 150 Fortune 1000 executives said they expect to pursue more mergers in the next six months. Only 18 percent said their urge to merge is declining.

Welcome news for investment bankers. Currently, M&A activity is at a seven-year low. A pick-up in corporate acquisitions could mean new hiring by banks, many of which have laid off hundreds of staffers in recent months.

It was a BAD WEEK for:

1. Accountants
It’s bad enough that much of the viewing public already rates accountants right up there with dog-beaters and Lord Haw Haw. Now, it looks like green-eye shade types are going to have an even tougher job finding a job.

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