Countrywide Financial Corp., Calabasas, Calif., has announced that its long-time independent auditor, Grant Thornton LLP, has been replaced by KPMG LLP, but that the move was not based on any dispute with Grant Thornton over accounting principles or practices.Countrywide praised Grant Thornton, which has been the company's independent auditor since the early 1970s, adding that the company would complete Countrywide's 2003 audit. The appointment of KPMG was made by the Audit and Ethics Committee of Countrywide's board of directors based on a comprehensive review of audit firms that began in mid-2003, the company said.

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