Issues related to low-balling of initial year audit fees and the resultant impact on audit quality have received significant attention from regulators in many countries. Using 9,684 observations from China during the years 2002–2011, we find that there is a significant initial year audit fee discount following an audit firm change when both of the signing audit partners are different from the prior year. The evidence is mixed if one or both of the signing partners from the prior year also moves with the client to the new audit firm. We find evidence of audit fee discounting in our analysis of fee levels, but not in our analysis of changes in audit fees from the prior year. Sanctions for problem audits and greater earnings management are more likely when there is an audit firm change that involves two new signing partners together with initial year audit fee discounting.

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