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The effect of large audit firm mergers on audit pricing in the UK

McMeeking, Kevin P., Peasnell, Ken V. and Pope, Peter (2007) The effect of large audit firm mergers on audit pricing in the UK. Accounting and Business Research, 37 (4). pp. 301-319. ISSN 0001-4788

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Identification Number: 10.1080/00014788.2007.9663314


This paper examines the effects on UK audit market concentration and pricing of mergers between the large audit firms and the demise of Andersen. Based on data over the period 1985–2002, it appears that mergers contributed to a rise in concentration ratios to levels that suggest concern about the potential for monopoly pricing. The high concentration ratios have not improved the level of price competition in the UK audit market. Our pooled models suggest that concentration ratios are associated with higher audit fees. The evidence suggests that the effects of mergers between big firms on brand name fee premium and on price competition vary depending on the particular circumstances. The brand name premium is strongest for the largest quartile of companies prior to the mergers. After the Big Six mergers, the premium increases for average‐sized companies but falls for the smallest and largest companies. Following the PricewaterhouseCoopers merger, the premium increases for below median‐sized clients but decreases for above‐median sized clients. For the Deloitte‐Andersen transaction, the premium falls for the smallest and largest companies but increases for those in the second quartile. Our results provide evidence that auditees are likely to pay higher fees if their auditor merges with a larger counterpart. We attribute merger‐related fee hikes to product differentiation, rather than anti‐competitive pricing.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2007 The Authors
Divisions: Accounting
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HG Finance
JEL classification: M - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting > M4 - Accounting and Auditing > M42 - Auditing
Date Deposited: 23 Oct 2013 12:19
Last Modified: 02 Apr 2024 23:11

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