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April 30, 2008

GT UK consolidates AIM audit domination

Grant Thornton UK (GT) has consolidated its position as the auditor of the most UK Alternative Investment Market (AIM)-listed clients, according to business data provider Hemscott. The mid-tier firm gained 17 AIM clients in the first quarter of 2008 and now has a total of 232.

KPMG Europe came in second with a total of 189 clients, BDO Stoy Hayward had 140 and Deloitte UK had 136. Of the top five AIM auditors, PricewaterhouseCoopers UK (PwC) dropped the most clients, shedding six to 132.

Despite the mid-tier dominating the numbers game, the Big Four still serve most of the largest AIM-listed clients. KPMG have 22 FTSE AIM 100 clients Deloitte serve 15, PwC have 14 followed by Ernst & Young UK with 12. GT picked up four of the top 100 and now serve nine.

Concentration at the top

GT head of external professional affairs Steve Maslin told the International Accounting Bulletin that the mid-tier firm is making inroads into the 100 largest AIM-listed companies.

“I think you would have to say that if that trend just continued at that pace, there would still be a concentration in five years time and probably ten years time. So in terms of us delivering on our challenging financial targets and growth plans, we’re pleased,” he said.

“However, it is still a very small inroad into the concentration issue and I do think the markets are going to have to continue to up their game in taking actions to speed up the pace of that trend.”

GT’s AIM market audit growth has been mirrored in the FTSE. Maslin observed: “On the FTSE 250, which is probably the thing we’re monitoring, in the last 18 months we’ve gone up from one to six [clients]. So, you might argue it’s still relatively small, but we see that as a really encouraging and healthy trend.”

The mid-tier firm has also provided non-audit services to one in four of the full list FTSE 100 in the past 18 months.

“An integral part of our aggressive business plans over the next few years is to take our AIM leadership and take that out into the full list and be seen to be the leading firm of companies of round about £500 million in market capitalisation,” Maslin said.

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