Vodafone hangs up on PwC amid legal dispute

Vodafone has launched a search for a new auditor after it emerged that incumbent PwC is embroiled in a legal dispute with the telecoms giant.

The spat centres on the collapse of Phones4U in 2014, when mobile firms cancelled their contracts with the high street chain, triggering its administration.

PwC, which was drafted in as administrator, has now launched legal action in relation to the collapse against the likes of Vodafone, EE and Telefonica, which owns O2.

Vodafone said on Friday: “During the 2017 financial year the group was notified that a company for which a number of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) partners are acting as administrators was considering litigation against the group.

“A legal action was filed by this company on 18 December 2018, naming Vodafone as one of a number of defendants.”

PwC will continue as auditors for the year ending March 31 2019 but Vodafone has decided to launch a tender process for the following financial year.

The process is expected to conclude in February 2019.

It will come at a critical moment for Britain’s big four accountancy firms, which are set to have their stranglehold on the audit market challenged as part of a radical shake-up of the scandal-hit industry.

A probe into the sector carried out by the Competition and Markets Authority proposed this week that audits of the UK’s biggest companies should be carried out by at least two firms, one of which should be from outside the big four of KPMG, Deloitte, PwC and EY.