The value of audit quality in public and private companies: evidence from Spain
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This paper compares the value of audit quality, proxied by the selection of a big N auditor, to the external claimholders of private and public companies. Although the combination of a lower ownership concentration of public companies, the greater demand for financial information quality about these companies and their higher litigation risk can result in the expectation that audit quality should be more valuable for public than for private companies, the greater information asymmetry between the managers and the external stakeholders and the unavailability of alternative mechanisms for monitoring the managers can make external audit more valuable for the external claimholders of private companies. In this paper, we test these two competing views by analysing if banks and lenders take into account auditor selection in the formation of the cost of debt. Our results support the second view: we find that only private companies obtain a lower cost of debt when they are audited by a high-quality auditor. These results are robust to both endogeneity and unobserved firm-specific heterogeneity.
KeywordsAudit quality Agency problems Big N auditors Private companies Cost of debt
This research is funded by the P06-SEJ-01821 research project, of the General Secretary of Universities, Research and Technology of Andalucía and the SEJ2007-65782-C02-02ECON research project of the Spanish Ministry of Science and Education.
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