Using data from 123 reverse mergers (RMs) in China, this study investigates the determinants and economic consequences of auditor choice in RMs. We find that the choice of a new auditor instead of the incumbent auditor is not related to auditor competence but to the relative bargaining power of RM firms and publicly listed firms (shell firms), and that the probability of choosing new auditors is higher when RM firms have more bargaining power relative to shell firms. We also find that hiring new auditors in the RM is associated with a higher valuation of injected assets and higher pre-listing income-increasing discretionary accruals in RM firms. Furthermore, post-merger firms exhibit drops in accounting performance and firm value and are more likely to restate their financial reports within 3 years of listing when new auditors are appointed in RMs. Finally, the cross-sectional test shows that this effect mainly exists in the context of RMs where the newly appointed auditor is a non-Big 10 auditor and a non-specialist auditor. Overall, our results emphasize the role of RM firms and shell firms in auditor choice for RMs and highlight the implications of such a joint decision on investor protection.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We are grateful for helpful comments and suggestions from the Joint Editors (Professor Wenxuan Hou and Professor Jason Zezhong Xiao), Associate Editor, and two anonymous referees. This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Project No. 71872022 ) and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (Project No. 2017CDJSK02PT25 ).
- Reverse merger
- Auditor choice
- Accounting performance
- Audit quality