Accounting firm EY has called off a plan to break up its audit and consulting units, slamming the brakes on a proposed overhaul of its businesses that was meant to address regulatory concerns over potential conflicts of interest.
The company, which is one of the Big Four accounting giants, announced its plans for a split in September after regulators voiced concerns that the audit arm would not do its job fairly for its client if it also employed EY as a consultant.
But the plan, code-named “Project Everest”, faced resistance from some of EY’s partners. The company said its U.S. Executive Committee decided not to move forward with the split.
Had the split been ratified, it would have been the biggest overhaul in the accounting sector since the 2002 collapse of Arthur Andersen, the auditor that was mired in the Enron scandal and whose downfall reduced the Big Five to Big Four.
UK auditing and accounting regulator, the Financial Reporting Council, had asked the Big Four firms in 2020 to separate auditing as a standalone business in Britain by June 2024.
EY’s latest move was first reported by the Financial Times.