This study investigates the impact of large shareholder incentives on firms' auditor choice using a quasi-natural experiment setting provided by the split share structure reform in China. The reform converted the previously non-tradable shares held by large shareholders into tradable shares and thus enhanced the alignment of large shareholders' and outside investors' interests. We find that firms switch from large auditors to small auditors following the completion of the reform. The results are robust to the audit firm merging effect and the firm fixed effects. Further analyses reveal that the effect is more pronounced in firms with greater agency costs prior to the reform and in firms located in a weak legal environment. Taken together, these results suggest that a reduction in conflicts between large shareholders and outside investors leads to a declining demand for high-quality audits.
JEL Classifications: M42; G34.
Data Availability: Data are available from the public sources cited in the text.