“At this stage, it is not expected that a challenger will come forward,” a source close to PwC told City A.M., although any of the Big Four firm’s 873 partners can theoretically still submit a challenge to be considered alongside Powell by 31 January.
Powell, 55, was elected as chairman and senior partner of the UK firm of PwC in April 2008, before starting the four-year term on 1 July that year, months before PwC was appointed as administrator to Lehman Brothers in September.
His background in restructuring, notably acting as the administrator to MG Rover in 2005, is understood to have created the view that Powell has been the right man for the job at a difficult time for City firms.
Powell stated that he intends to run to lead the firm for a second and final term earlier this month, describing the job as “fascinating”.
If he remains the only candidate under consideration by the firm’s supervisory board, Powell will still have to submit a manifesto detailing his plans for the business, as PwC comes under regulatory and political pressures.
He will also still have to go through an election process, managed independently by the Electoral Reform Society. PwC will announce its new UK chairman, who will start on 1 July, in the spring.
The one-horse leadership race at PwC is in contrast to the open battle to succeed UK chairman John Griffith-Jones at rival auditor KPMG.
As many as 10 names are understood to be in the frame to take over from Griffith-Jones when he steps down in September – the latest of which to emerge is Richard Reid, the London chairman of KPMG who is known for his work with Business in the Community.
Reid joins Richard Bennison, Oliver Tant and Alan Buckle on a list of KPMG names tipped to be in the running for the chairman’s role by City sources – although KPMG declined to comment before the expected short-list announcement in the spring.