BRITISH AMERICAN TOBACCO has appointed KPMG as auditors.
KPMG secured the account after PwC’s 17-year relationship with the UK maker of Lucky Strike and Dunhill said it would replace the Big Four firm because of planned litigation being brought against the firm by a subsidiary.
Tony Cates, head of audit at KPMG in the UK, said: “We are delighted to have won this prestigious audit. Our appointment is testament to our commitment to audit quality and the team’s hard work, passion, energy and enthusiasm.”
Shareholder approval to confirm the appointment of KPMG will be sought at BAT’s AGM on 29 April 2015.
Two weeks ago PwC announced that it would not be seeking reappointment after completing the audit of BAT’s 2014 accounts. The tobacco giant said the decision, which was taken jointly with PwC, was a result of proposed litigation by a group subsidiary against PwC.
The potential legal action stems from a dispute between BAT and paper maker Windward Prospects, over cost of cleaning up chemical leaks in two rivers in the US. Windward allegedly gave BAT subsidiary BAT Industries an indemnity against claims relating to pollution of the Fox River in Wisconsin.
BAT claims obligations are owed to it under the indemnity and that Windward should not have made dividend payments that it alleges left the company at risk of failing to meet its obligations. PwC audited Windward at the time of the dividend payments in 2008 and 2009.
“The potential claims against PwC, which have been assigned to the group, arose from work carried out by PwC in relation to the audit of the accounts of a third party. These claims do not concern the audit of any BAT Group comapny,” the company said.
PwC’s Big Four rivals KPMG, EY and Deloitte all competed to try and win the audit.
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