Washington (Aug. 1, 2003) -- Smaller accounting firms still face significant “barriers to entry” in their quest to capture business in the large public company audit market -- including lack of staff, technical expertise and global reach -- according to a study on consolidation and competition conducted by the General Accounting Office.

The 140-page GAO report said that the merger-mania of the 1980s and 1990s, coupled with the collapse of Arthur Andersen, increased the concentration of the audit market for public companies, with the Big Four currently auditing some 78 percent of all U.S.-based public companies and 99 percent of the market in terms of all public company sales.

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