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Big Four accountants retain hold over blue-chip audit jobs

City A.M. Reporter
ATTEMPTS to inject more competition into firms that audit UK company books have suffered a setback as figures released yesterday showed the &ldquo;Big Four&rdquo; accountants maintaining their stranglehold on the sector. <br /><br />The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) set up a market participants group three years ago which made recommendations to spread this business more evenly. It proposed remedies such as encouraging firms besides PricewaterhouseCoopers, KPMG, Deloitte and Ernst &amp; Young to vie for contracts at blue chip companies, making changes to ownership and liability of auditors but progress has been non-existent or slow.<br /><br />The latest FRC figures show that the Big Four audited the accounts of 99 of the FTSE 100 in August, unchanged from February. Non-Big Four firm, BDO Stoy Hayward, audited one company in the blue chip index, sparking concerns about effect on listed companies if any of the major auditors got into trouble.<br /><br />&ldquo;The FRC remains concerned about the significant uncertainty and cost which could arise in the event that one or more of the Big Four audit firms left the market,&rdquo; said FRC chief executive Paul Boyle.<br /><br />The Big Four also dominate auditing of UK medium sized companies, with a market share of 94 per cent.