PW wins Smiths audit from Clark Whitehill

PW wins Smiths audit from Clark Whitehill

Price Waterhouse has managed to snatch the Smiths Industries audit from Clark Whitehill, removing Group A’s last true fingerhold on the FTSE 100.

Clark Whitehill, Smiths’ auditors since 1922, will jointly audit the company with PW next year, before being fully dropped in the year after.

The medium-sized sector’s only other representative in the FTSE 100 is Kidsons Impey, sharing RMC Group with Coopers & Lybrand. Binder Hamlyn, which merged in 1994 year with Arthur Andersen, still holds Norweb and Southern Electric.

Clark Whitehill, ranked tenth by fee income, admitted it was a victim of market trends, with major companies demanding big name auditors. The Smiths’ audit was worth # 1.3m a year, with # 100,000 of other work.

Clark Whitehill chief executive, Peter Salter, said: ‘We are very sorry to see the departure of Smiths Industries as an audit client, but we wish them well. We are aware of the position of today’s marketplace and are positioning ourselves accordingly.’

Smiths’ chairman and chief executive, Sir Roger Hurn, said Clark Whitehill would still be used for ‘appropriate services’ including its pension fund.

Hurn explained the switch: ‘Smiths’ world expansion is planned to continue at a significant pace and, although Clark Whitehill has served us very well in the UK, we now feel we need an auditing firm whose international presence and experience is clearly second to none. This has led us to select Price Waterhouse.’

Finance director Alan Thomson added that shareholder pressure did not have any influence on the decision. ‘It’s a good business decision since 60% of our business is in the US and Clark Whitehill are basically a UK firm.’

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