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Are state ownership and auditors’ locality determinants of asset write-downs? Evidence from China

After issuing the 1998 Accounting Standards, Chinese regulators implemented additional regulations in 2001 governing write-downs of impaired assets and required assessment of recoverable amounts for four additional asset categories. As the recoverable value cannot be obtained objectively, management can discretionally assess the magnitude of write-downs to affect bottom-line profit. This study used 7258 firm-year observations in China from 1998 to 2005 to examine whether the percentage of asset write-downs by state-controlled firms differs from non-state-controlled firms, conditional upon more conservative financial reporting rules, and investigate whether local auditors support managerial decisions on asset write-downs. The empirical findings support the tendency of state-controlled ownerships to have lower asset write-downs. Local auditors also support managerial decisions on asset write-downs, especially when the companies are controlled by local governments.

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