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MHA Macintyre Hudson eyes role as next Sports Direct auditor

Mark Shapland
Mike Ashley, founder and majority shareholder of sportwear retailer Sports Direct: REUTERS

Sports Direct says no discussions have taken place with MHA Macintyre Hudson.

The accountancy firm said it had spoken with professionals who work with the troubled sporting goods retailer after Grant Thornton stepped down last week, adding that it expects to tender for the business in the coming weeks. However, Sports Direct says there have not been any talks between MHA and Sports Direct (or its representatives).

Yesterday it was revealed that Mazars is also pitching for the business run by Mike Ashley and wants a big increase in fees to do the work.

The rush to be Sports Direct’s next auditor is turning into a scrap among so-called “challenger” practices after the Big Four accountancy firms — PwC, Deloitte, KPMG and EY — all claimed to be conflicted, while BDO is also understood to have turned down the work.

Sports Direct — which has battled a string of corporate governance issues — has had to rethink after it said in its annual report that only a Big Four firm could cope with its audit.

MHA chairman Rakesh Shaunak said: “We have had initial conversations. We expect to take part in the tendering process, although we want to know the full reasons why Grant Thornton quit.”

Grant Thornton is expected to submit a letter to Companies House explaining why it stood down after 11 years as the company’s auditor.

MHA is no stranger to controversial clients, having recently taken on Ukrainian pellet producer Ferrexpo. It took over in July after Deloitte resigned following the company’s issues with a Ukrainian charity called Blooming Land. Deloitte found that money paid to the charity by Ferrexpo could have been misappropriated.

There have been suggestions the Government could step in and appoint an auditor if Sports Direct cannot find one, although Shaunak does not believe it will get that far.

Sports Direct must file its April 2019 audited accounts by October this year.