News in brief

The UK’s financial reporting watchdog has forced plastics manufacturer Princedale Group to wipe around #3.8m from its profit before tax figure in its 2000 accounts. The Financial Reporting Review Panel said the company’s disclosure of the loss on the sale of its subsidiary Colloids, broke the rules of FRS3, the accounting standard that deals with reporting financial performance. The company, audited by BDO Stoy Hayward, now describes its original accounting as erroneous.
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Property developer Wiggins Group has announced the appointment of David Green, formerly of construction company Taylor Woodrow, as its new finance director. Green is being brought out of retirement to take the post and will start work on 1 October. The chartered accountant, who qualified with Arthur Andersen, took early retirement after 12 years with Taylor Woodrow. Wiggins was forced to re-state its accounts from 1995 to 2000, wiping #35m off its 2000 results and creating a #9.9m pre-tax loss for the year.
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PricewaterhouseCoopers’ former chief economist, Rosemary Radcliffe, has been appointed as the Financial Services Authority’s independent complaints commissioner. A high-profile partner at PwC from 1982 to July 2001, she will be responsible for investigating complaints against the FSA and heading up the framework which the FSA is putting into place to comply with the Financial Services and Markets Act. She said: ‘I see my role as crucial in underwriting the FSA’s accountability, as regulator, to the financial services industry and to the wider public.’
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The Treasury has ordered an independent inquiry into the collapse of Equitable Life, to be headed up by chartered accountant and lawyer Lord Penrose QC. The probe will investigate the circumstances leading to closure of Equitable to new business and pinpoint lessons to be learnt from the conduct, administration and regulation of life assurance. The inquiry, which is expected to take some time to complete and look at the role of auditor Ernst & Young, could look at evidence going back many years.
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HIT Entertainment, maker of Bob the Builder and Barney the Dinosaur, expects the headline figures in its results for the past year to be affected by the adoption of US accounting standards. HIT announced on Tuesday that results for the year ending 31 July 2001 will ‘exceed’ all expectations under traditional accounting methods. However, the adoption of US GAAP will affect the numbers, to be announced on 29 October, though a statement said the company hoped even after accounting adjustments the results will ‘achieve the consensus market forecast’.
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Duke Street Capital, the private equity investment company, is suing Ernst & Young over its alleged failure to spot problems at collapsed plastics business Steiner Industries. The venture capitalists claim E&Y, auditors of Steiner, should have spotted alleged problems at the manufacturer before Duke Street purchased a 66% stake in the business for #35m in 1999.
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The Society of Turnaround Professionals is to hold its first agm next Tuesday. The new professional body’s agenda for the meeting includes approval of a new constitution and the election and re-election of nine directors, a smaller board than that of other bodies. STP’s chief executive John Harris explained the body was structured like a company to suit the needs of a fast-changing world.
Insolvency continues to rise, see

Beleaguered video games company is facing a #2.5m lawsuit from a group of 140 shareholders who collectively hold 1.3m shares. The shareholders, who are suing the company’s directors and its auditor, PricewaterhouseCoopers, are hoping to recoup losses after a drop in share price sparked by an overstatement in revenues. Shares were worth #1.95 when the company floated but traded at 7.25p on Tuesday.
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London Accountant is to get a new look from next week. The newsletter, which is distributed once a month with Accountancy Age to members of the London Society of Chartered Accountants, will have a new design and a number of new sections. It will also continue to carry some of the best accountancy jobs on offer in the capital.
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