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February 8, 2023

Jeremy Newman: See? I Told You That There Were ‘Big 4 Only’ Clauses

BDO Global CEO — and infrequent blogger — Jeremy Newman would like everyone to know that he wasn’t dreaming when he stated that some financing agreements included “Big 4 only” clauses.

Apparently Newman was thought to be a little Patrick Byrne-ish on this particular point:

These are views that I have been expressing for some years, although many have questioned the prevalence of such clauses and indeed some have sought to deny their existence.

It was comforting therefore for me to read in the report published by the UK’s Financial Reporting Council in October 2009 entitled ‘Choice in the UK Audit Market’ that reference was made to restrictions in loan covenants. The report from the FRC noted:

‘..it is too early to determine how widespread such obligations are; however, the FRC continues to receive examples of banks imposing loan covenants with ‘Big 4 only’ clauses, including one which imposed a higher rate of interest if the borrowing company chose a non-Big 4 auditor.’

Surely there is now sufficient evidence to recognise that such clauses are a potential constraint on choice in the market place and regulators should be urged to ban them.

So despite the lack of evidence that these obligations are widespread, this remains a matter of “urgency,” according to Newman. There are examples, people. That should be enough for you. The man is trying to build a Global 6 firm after all. Kindly throw in a little additional bank regulation to help him out.

BDO Global CEO — and infrequent blogger — Jeremy Newman would like everyone to know that he wasn’t dreaming when he stated that some financing agreements included “Big 4 only” clauses.

Apparently Newman was thought to be a little Patrick Byrne-ish on this particular point:

These are views that I have been expressing for some years, although many have questioned the prevalence of such clauses and indeed some have sought to deny their existence.

It was comforting therefore for me to read in the report published by the UK’s Financial Reporting Council in October 2009 entitled ‘Choice in the UK Audit Market’ that reference was made to restrictions in loan covenants. The report from the FRC noted:

‘..it is too early to determine how widespread such obligations are; however, the FRC continues to receive examples of banks imposing loan covenants with ‘Big 4 only’ clauses, including one which imposed a higher rate of interest if the borrowing company chose a non-Big 4 auditor.’

Surely there is now sufficient evidence to recognise that such clauses are a potential constraint on choice in the market place and regulators should be urged to ban them.

So despite the lack of evidence that these obligations are widespread, this remains a matter of “urgency,” according to Newman. There are examples, people. That should be enough for you. The man is trying to build a Global 6 firm after all. Kindly throw in a little additional bank regulation to help him out.

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