Unilever puts its audit to tender

The audit contract, which normally runs for three years, expires at the end of this financial year in December 2002.

A spokesman for the company stressed that the move did not come in the wake of the Enron scandal, but was agreed upon last summer. He said the invitation to tender went out in November.

He said: ‘The tenders are being discussed and will be subject to ratification at the Annual General Meeting in May of next year’

‘PwC was re-appointed last year and will probably be re-appointed this year. We review the position every three years.’

According to the spokesman, the three candidates who have pitched for the tender are Ernst & Young, KPMG and current auditor PwC.

In a separate move Unilever has also suggested that it will examine what role it expects its auditor to take. This will include whether the auditor will carry out any non-audit work.

Unilever chairman Niall Fitzgerald told listeners at the World Economic Forum in New York taht the Enron affair has ‘serious question’ about corporate governance.

He added: ‘We will look again at the range of additional services and decide in view of current circumstances whether it’s appropriate.’

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