Sports Direct, the retailer founded by Mike Ashley, is pleading with the big four accountancy firms to audit its books as it worries smaller accountants would not be up to the task.
Over the last fortnight the company has sent overtures to the auditors ahead of its annual general meeting tomorrow, Sky News reported.
Grant Thornton, which had audited the company’s books since 2007, quit in August. The news sent Sports Direct’s shares to an eight-year low.
Ashley has previously said that Deloitte would be unable to audit Sports Direct’s accounts as it has already done advisory and tax work for the retailer.
Meanwhile EY has ruled itself out as it is the administrator for House of Fraser, which Ashley bought last year after it collapsed.
The remaining duo in the big four, KPMG and PwC, have both asked not to be considered for the job.
Ashley wrote earlier this year that because the firm had “grown exponentially in size, geography, and complexity over recent years…we do not believe a firm outside of the big four will potentially be able to cope with such an audit in the future.”
Sports Direct has been reported to be speaking to Mazars and MHA MacIntyre Hudson, two smaller companies. The Financial Reporting Council is said to be involved in the discussions between the big four and Sports Direct.
Ashley has gone on a spending spree in the last year and a half, buying House of Fraser, Evans Cycles, Game Digital, Sofa.com and Jack Wills. He has also launched unsuccessful bids for Patisserie Valerie, HMV and Debenhams.