Increase in non-Big Four auditors in FTSE 350 stalls

The FRC has published its Fourth Progress Report on the implementation of the MPG recommendations on promoting choice in the UK audit market. In October 2007, the MPG published 15 recommendations intended to allow the audit market to work
more efficiently and, in the medium‐to‐long‐term, to have a positive impact on audit choice in the UK.… Read the rest

Asian Sustainability Ratings – China leapfrogs Hong Kong

CSR Asia has announced the launch of a major new initiative to help improve Asian reporting standards. The Asian Sustainability Rating provides an in depth assessment of CSR related disclosure of 200 of the largest companies across ten countries in Asia.… Read the rest

Canadian banks agree voluntary say-on-pay resolutions

Canada’s largest financial institutions have agreed a voluntary approach to “say-on-pay” which will see a standardised, non-binding shareholder vote proposed during the 2010 season. In a sharp contrast to the US’ legislative battle to give shareholders a voice on executive pay, Canadian shareholder groups and companies have worked together to create a common format which they hope will trickle down to smaller companies before next spring.… Read the rest

Annual reports are dreadful says auditor

The Accounting Standards Board (ASB) published the results of its review of narrative reporting on 29 October, and its release was trailed by separate reports from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and Deloitte.

PwC “recognise that reporting is not made easy by the regulatory demands imposed on all companies today, but sadly too many reports display the dead hands of compliance and the editorial committee”.… Read the rest

US: Succession planning resolutions set to increase

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has announced a major policy reversal on shareholder resolutions which is likely to lead to an increase in ESG risk and succession planning-related proposals.

In a legal bulletin published this week, the SEC said that companies could no longer automatically exclude CEO succession planning or ESG risk-related resolutions using the “ordinary business” clause.… Read the rest

Italian proxy system “backward” and “third world” says shareholders

Although the EU Shareholder Rights Directive was meant to have been fully implemented by 3 August 2009 at the latest, Italy is only just now mulling over shareholder responses to its the second consultation which was launched on 24 July 2009 and closed on 18 September 2009.… Read the rest

Latest reports from Manifest

Manifest is pleased to announce the release of its latest publications:

The Executive Director Total Remuneration Survey

Unlike many other pay surveys, the Total Remuneration Survey takes into account the changing mix of compensation from just salary and bonus to a total mix of pay where 80% is performance related.… Read the rest

ASIC case against ex-AWB CEO begins

In December 2007, ASIC commenced civil penalty proceedings in the Supreme Court of Victoria against six former directors and officers of AWB Ltd, the ex-ASX 100 constituent. The trial against the former CEO, Andrew Lindberg began in the Victorian Courts this week and is expected to run for several months.… Read the rest

Australian class action funding uncertainty

In Australia, litigation funding arrangements have not previously been considered to be managed investment schemes – however class action funders are now being forced to review procedures. According to Allens Arthur Robinson, the 2-1 majority decision by Australia’s Federal Court in Brookfield Multiplex Ltd v International Litigation Funding Partners Pte Ltd, which was handed down this week:

  • may result in litigation funders being forced to register class actions with the Australian Securities or Investments Commission (ASIC), or obtain appropriate exemptions, in order to comply with the Corporations Act 2001 managed investment scheme provisions; and
  • highlights the need for regulation, including prudential regulation, of third-party litigation funders and, more generally, litigation funding arrangements.
Read the rest

Ex-ABC Learning directors may face $1bn damages claim

Ferrier Hodgson, the administrators of ABC Learning (a former constituent of the S&P/ASX 100), are reportedly investigating a A$1bn damages claim against the former directors and the auditors. The administrators are being funded by IMF Australia (a listed company which provides funding of legal claims and other related services where the claim size is over A$2m).… Read the rest

Former Vivendi execs face share price manipulation charges

A French judge has order seven executives at Vivendi to stand trial over alleged financial wrong doing. The executives include Jean-Marie Messier, Edgar Bronfman Jr and Guillaume Hannezo (former Chief Financial Officer). Reuters has reported that the charges include divulging misleading information, stock price manipulation and misuse of corporate funds.… Read the rest

ASIC seeks disqualification of Centro directors

The Australian Securities and Investment Commission this week announced it intended bringing civil charges against the enitre 2007 board and a former Chief Financial Officer of various entities withing the Centro Properties Group and Centro Retail Group.

This is the first case brought where the requirement that a listed entity’s CEO and CFO declare in writing to the company directors that the financial reports comply with the accounting standards will be an issue before the Court.… Read the rest