It’s been dubbed one of the bitterest corporate disputes in recent memory, and it ended recently when an arbitrator reportedly granted Andersen Consulting independence from parent firm Arthur Andersen. An inside source told that that the consulting unit was to change its name and pay the parent firm some $1 billion. That was the amount of payments slated for the parent firm but put into escrow by Consulting since the arbitration began three years ago. Actually, the dispute has its roots back more than 10 years when company auditors and consultants were divided, presumably to avoid conflicts of interests.

While the ruling may be monumental for Andersen as a whole, the real estate and hospitality group will chug on unaffected, has learned from Thomas A. Smith, the West-Coast based partner and director of global marketing for the practice. “It has virtually no affect on us at all,” says Smith. “It doesn’t mean anything to us because we’ve developed our own service offerings for real estate and hospitality in the new economy. Andersen Consulting doesn’t compete with us, and they never did. They’re in a different part of the marketplace.”

But Smith admits that there is no guarantee that their paths won’t cross in the future. “It’s hard to say if well bump into them in terms of the E-business solutions we’re providing,” says the global director. “But we’re prepared to compete effectively.”

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