PurposeThis paper examines the influence of corporate governance mechanisms on audit delay in companies listed on the Kuwait Stock Exchange (KSE) in 2013. Kuwait has the unusual audit regulation that listed companies must be jointly audited by two independent auditors who both sign the report.Design/methodology/approachAudit delay is measured as the number of days that elapse between the end of the company’s financial year and the date of the audit report. A multivariate regression model analyzes the association between audit delay and six corporate governance mechanisms, namely; joint auditor combination, board size, board independence, role duality, institutional ownership, and government ownership. FindingsThere is a wide range in audit delay among KSE companies, ranging from seven to 159 days. After controlling for various company characteristics, there is a significant difference in the timeliness of audit reports depending on the combination of auditors: audit delay is significantly reduced when the audit is performed by Big-4 companies. Moreover, companies with larger boards, a greater number of independent directors, and separate CEO-chairman roles are more likely to produce timely financial statements. Higher government ownership levels were associated with greater audit delay, while no significant association was found for institutional ownership. These results are robust to a variety of sensitivity checks.Practical implicationsThe findings highlight the effectiveness of corporate governance mechanisms in shaping the timeliness of audit reports, thus these mechanisms should be taken into account in any regulatory action to reduce audit delay. In addition, the findings of this study provide empirical evidence that can be used by regulators and enforcement bodies in their continued campaigns promoting the role and importance of corporate governance mechanisms in improving the quality and timeliness of financial reporting. Originality/valueThe study extends the audit delay literature by investigating the issue in a joint audit setting. The empirical evidence shows a wide range of audit delay in KSE-listed companies, which raises questions about the costs and benefits of the joint audit regulation for the length of this period.
Journal of Financial Regulation and Compliance – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jul 11, 2016