(Reuters) - Growth in its consulting business helped PwC increase revenue 10 percent in fiscal 2011, allowing it to regain its position as the world's largest accounting and consulting firm.
PwC's global network of firms reported record revenue of $29.2 billion for the year that ended June 30, up from $26.6 billion in 2010 and the strongest growth since 2008.
PwC, formerly known as PricewaterhouseCoopers, also said on Monday that it plans to hire a record 20,000 graduates worldwide in fiscal 2012 and offer training internships to 10,000 students. Its staff now numbers about 169,000.
PwC's revenue was about $400 million ahead of that of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd, previously the No. 1 accounting and consulting firm. Deloitte had squeaked past PwC last year in total revenue by a margin of just $9 million.
Both firms have been on an acquisition spree, building up their consulting arms despite rumblings from authorities in Europe about curbing audit firms' consulting work.
The two firms are part of the "Big Four," which also includes KPMG and Ernst & Young.
Demand for advice on cost-cutting, acquisitions and new technology by companies recovering from the 2009 recession has boosted consulting work, which is growing much faster than the traditional audit business for global audit firms.
Revenue from PwC's consulting and advisory services rose 20 percent in fiscal 2011 to $7.5 billion. Audit and related services grew 7 percent to $14.1 billion, while tax services revenue rose 8 percent to $7.6 billion.
"We expect growth to remain healthy in FY 2012 as companies continue to position themselves for better times," Dennis Nally, chairman of PwC International, said in a statement.
Europe and North America accounted for most of PwC's revenue, though growth was slower in those regions than in other parts of the world.
The Australia and Pacific region posted the fastest growth at 38.4 percent. Revenue grew 22.8 percent in South and Central America and 19.9 percent in the Middle East and Africa.
North America and the Caribbean grew 10.4 percent while Asia grew 13.5 percent. Central and Eastern Europe increased 7.3 percent and Western Europe grew 4.1 percent.
A draft European Union law that was leaked last week calls for sharp restrictions on non-audit work by auditors to prevent potential conflicts of interest.
The draft law, prepared by EU Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier, is expected to meet strong opposition from some EU states, however. For details click on.
PwC has said that its consulting business poses no conflicts with its audit services.
Reporting by Dena Aubin; Editing by Ted Kerr