No value in a non-audit service bar say Scottish accountants

There is no benefit to be gained from a complete prohibition on auditors providing non-audit services to their listed clients.

That’s the view of a new research paper published by a Working Group established by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland to examine the issue of the provision of non-audit services by external auditors after it was raised by the Treasury Select Committee in their report into the Financial Crisis.… Read the rest

Deloitte develops carbon advisory business

Big Four auditor Deloitte has enhanced its presence in the green consultancy market through the acquisition of sustainability and consultancy adviser dcarbon8.

The firm will be integrated with Deloitte’s environmental and sustainability consulting practice, with founder Guy Battle becoming a partner.… Read the rest

Executive Payouts – An Increasingly Large Frictional Cost in Mergers

Mergers frequently result in large one-time payouts to executives of the acquired company, through change-in-control payments and acceleration of equity awards. Several recent mergers, however, have highlighted how significant those deferred costs can be for shareholders.

Executives at oilfield-services company BJ Services, which is being acquired Baker Hughes in a cash-and-stock deal worth $5.3 billion on the date of announcement, will receive payouts worth approximately 4.5% of the deal’s value – including change-in-control payments of $180 million, and accelerated vesting of equity grants worth another $55 million.… Read the rest

Toyota’s woes a symptom of Japanese corporate governance

A recent article from The Economist has highlighted another real-world connection between firm performance and governance structures.

Commenting on the massive accelerator safety recall and how the Toyota management has handled itself, the Economist points out that the problems it faces: “highlight broader failings in Japanese corporate governance that make large companies particularly vulnerable to mishandling a crisis in this way.Read the rest

UK Takeover Panel announce consultation

The Takeover Panel has initiated a consultation on the Takeover Code. The Panel indicated that the decision to undertake the consultation was made in the light of recent commentary and public discussion, and suggestions for consideration from the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and others.… Read the rest

Verizon Communications give $18.5m pay off to “retiring” executive

The preliminary proxy statement filed by Verizon Communications ahead of their AGM on 6 May has revealed that the former President and Chief Operating Officer, Dennis Strigl, who retired from the company effective 31 December 2009, will receive a separation payment of some $18.5m, to be paid in July 2010.… Read the rest

MAN SE shareholders asked to postpone discharge of 3 former executives

Following the December 2009 announcement MAN SE’s acceptance of the two administrative orders issued imposing fines on certain subsidiaries, and the closure of the internal investigations into the matter, attention now turns to the Group’s AGM on 1 April.

The meeting documents note that:

Based on the status of the special investigation commissioned by the Supervisory Board in connection with the preliminary investigations by the Munich Public Prosecution Office, there is still a need at present to look further into possible neglect of duty by the Executive Board members who departed.Read the rest

iSoft case continues

The iSoft conspiracy case has moved on another step with the announcement by the Financial Reporting Council that its Accountancy and Actuarial Discipline Board has called a disciplinary hearing to investigate a formal complaint against a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales in relation to the issues brought out by the iSoft allegations.… Read the rest

Uproar over Easyjet CEO’s termination payments

Easyjet has joined the ‘remuneration-report hall of shame’ following yesterday’s AGM when 28% of shareholders opposed its remuneration report. The revolt puts the low cost airline in the company of  Shell, Grainger, Punch Taverns and  who have all suffered remuneration defeats at the ballot box.… Read the rest

CSR laggards under pressure

A coalition of international investors representing $2.1 trillion in assets is upping its scrutiny of ‘laggard’ listed companies with a view to improving their reporting of ESG issues.

The 86 companies have been targetted for their failure to honour the reporting requirements of the UN Global Compact, the world’s largest voluntary corporate responsibility initiative.… Read the rest

German board diversity under review

Women are dramatically under-represented in the boardrooms of major corporations in Germany and need state-imposed quotas to achieve parity, according to a recent study by the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) in Berlin. Although Chancellor Angela Merkel may run the country, when it comes to business women only make up 2.5 percent of the members of executive boards at the 200 biggest German companies, holding 21 seats out of 833.… Read the rest

Occam’s razor applied to the (Infineon) proxy card

So, it’s 16:22pm the day after after Infineon’s highly contentious AGM. We have the streaming video from the meeting, we have the presentations, we even have a press release announcing the votes “For” the board candidates. But do we have a definitive list of proxy voting results.… Read the rest