Chicago (Aug. 14, 2002) -- Bob Basten, one of the pioneers in accounting industry consolidation, has stepped down as chief executive of Centerprise Advisors to concentrate on fighting Lou Gehrig's Disease.

Centerprise officials this morning disclosed that Basten, 42, was diagnosed in late July as having the disease, also known as ALS. Rick Stein, managing partner of Centerprise's Houston company, Mann Frankfort Stein & Lipp Advisors, has been appointed interim chief executive; Basten remains chairman.

Basten orchestrated the largest consolidation in industry history in 2000 when he acquired and combined Stein's firm, four other large regional CPA firms and three other companies to create Centerprise which ranks 16 on Accounting Today's Top 100 Firms list with $162 million in 2001 revenue. Basten, who spent almost two years putting Centerprise together, was one of the original directors of the industry consolidation effort by American Express Tax & Business services.

"We all know that Bob can handle stress, but his body just can't handle this, so it's best that he concentrate on taking care of his health," said Centerprise communications director Shelley Simmons. Basten, who played professional football with the Minnesota Vikings before entering accounting, issued the following statement in a release: "Thankfully, I have come to realize that life is full of choices and that life itself is only 5 percent the cards we are dealt and 95 percent how we play them. As a result, I choose to play to win. I choose to live, to laugh, to focus on what I can control and to work hard to try and make a difference."

- John M. Covaleski

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