Big accountants gear up for lucrative new blue chip contracts

Government rules forcing large companies to switch auditor every eight years mean a number of lucrative contracts are up for grabs and the big four accountants are gearing up for the competition, the Financieele Dagblad reports.

At least nine blue chip companies and six midcaps have put audit contracts out to tender or are about to do so, the FD says.

The new rules will also stop companies using the same accountant to control its books and provide advice. The aim of the change is to make accountants more independent in the wake of the financial crisis.


Unilever, for example, currently employs PwC as its auditor but is now looking for a replacement for the contract, which generated €18m in 2012.

‘Tendering for an AEX company is a mega job,’ Giljam Aarnink of EY told the paper. ‘It takes around two months and involves four of five partners and a support team.’ He estimates it costs around €1m to tender for a blue-chip contract.

A number of AEX companies have already announced their switch. Aegon is swapping EY for PwC and Ahold is moving from Deloitte to PwC. As well as Unilever, SBM Offshore, AkzoNobel, ING and Wolters Kluwer have said they are looking for a new auditor.

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