Creating opportunities for mid-tier audit firms to enter the international market could include relaxing ownership rules to permit investment from outsiders - non-accounting professionals - according to an independent study prepared for the European Commission.The report suggested that such a revision would result in opportunities for the mid-level firms to cope with the needs of larger clients, most of whom are currently served by the Big Four.

The study, conducted by Oxford, U.K.-based Oxera Consulting, was ordered by the commission's Internal Market Division, which has an eye to reducing concentration among major providers of audit services.

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