SunTrust Banks Inc. said Tuesday that its board decided to drop Andersen, its auditor of about 60 years, and hire rival PricewaterhouseCoopers, becoming one of the first major companies to sever ties with the accounting firm since the Enron Corp. scandal broke.
But the Atlanta-based bank said its decision to switch auditors for 2002 had nothing to do with Andersen's controversial audits of Enron or the quality and integrity of Andersen's previous audits.
SunTrust said it regularly reviews outside service contracts and began accepting bids from accounting firms in April 2001, before Enron's problems emerged.
Andersen was among firms that bid on the accounting contract last year, a SunTrust spokesman said.
SunTrust declined to comment on how much money it might save, or what services it would gain, by hiring PricewaterhouseCoopers. Andersen billed SunTrust $1.7 million in 2000 for audits and $1.4 million for other services, according to documents filed with regulators.
"We wish the company well and we regret the loss of any client," said Patrick Dorton, a spokesman at Andersen.
Last month, Andersen said it is losing business as a result of the Enron scandal. It said longtime clients were asking tough questions, although they were sticking by the firm.