U.K. sandwich retailer Pret a Manger has replaced its auditing firm, fueling speculation it could be getting ready for an initial public offering in the United States later this year.
The company has parted ways with KPMG and hired rival firm Ernst & Young. KPMG did not meet strict U.S. governance rules because it worked on financial projects in the U.S. in addition to performing audits, The Sunday Telegraph reported.
“KPMG has effectively disqualified itself as being an independent auditor under SEC rules having done other types of work,” The Telegraph reported. But that doesn’t mean Pret has pushed the button on a float, paper said, citing a source close to Pret.
A Pret spokesperson confirmed the change of auditor.
Pret is backed by private equity firm Bridgepoint, which bought the chain in 2008 for $539 million.
Speculation that Pret would list has been heating up for months. JPMorgan Chase and Jefferies were recently hired to lead an IPO in New York, likely before year-end, according to a report from The Financial Times, which cited two people with knowledge of the situation. A Reuters report from March noted that Solebury Capital had been chosen to advise on a planned New York listing. Credit Suisse, Barclays, and Piper Jaffray were also working on the deal, as reported by Bloomberg.
The company could be valued at as much as $1.9 billion, Bloomberg reported, also citing two people familiar with the situation. Pret has more than 350 stores around the world in countries including the U.K., U.S., France, and China. It reported a 15% increase in total sales in 2016.