News in brief.

Gerry Acher, senior London partner at KPMG, has been appointed honorary treasurer for the Queen’s golden jubilee celebrations next year. A steering group, chaired by Lord Sterling of Plaistow, P&O’s chairman, will oversee the celebrations, due to take place over an extended holiday weekend in June 2002. Acher, who will retire from KPMG at the end of the year, said: ‘It is a tremendous honour and privilege to be asked to act as treasurer.

Hopefully the celebrations will been an opportunity, in the year of diversity, to bring people together.’ Acher’s appointment is not the first royal appointment for KPMG – former partner Sir Michael Peat, as keeper of the privy purse, is the royal household’s accountant.

Analysis: Royal Purse Strings

Three-quarters of chartered accountants believe the government is not doing enough to encourage an enterprise culture, according to a new survey.

The ICAEW’s report, Developing the Enterprise Economy, also found over half the accountants considered current support from the government for start-ups was poor or dismal. Nearly one in five said the current regulatory environment was also poor or dismal. Michael Groom, president of the institute, said: ‘Too many new businesses are constrained by red tape, cumbersome regulations and lack of access to finance.’

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Pharmaceutical company Bioglan Pharma has announced the resignation of its finance director Peter Johnson only six weeks after he joined the company. Former finance director Ann Simon, who took up the position of special projects director when Johnson was appointed FD, will take over the finance function until a replacement is found. A spokeswoman said the company was looking for an FD with a ‘focus on the biotechnology sector’ who had a ‘more detailed description of what the job entails.’

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Paine Webber has been fined #350,000 by the Securities and Futures Authority for serious compliance failures, including inadequate money laundering controls. The UK arm of the international stockbroker, now part of UBS, was severely reprimanded for failing to comply with the Financial Services Authority’s requirement that a firm should have adequate internal controls. The fine was the second largest ever imposed by the SFA, which is now part of the FSA.

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Swindon Town FC is putting together a variation on its company voluntary arrangement as the football club breached the existing agreement by not paying off certain creditors. Alex Andronikou of Hacker Young, who is supervising the CVA, confirmed the club was in breach of its original achievement. He said the club’s board was looking to put a variation in the CVA to get it back in line.

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Sir Elton John has been granted leave to appeal a #14m negligence claim against Big Five firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, which the pop star lost in the High Court in April. His right to appeal the ruling is limited only to PwC and does not apply to Andrew Haydon, the former managing director of his management company John Reid Enterprises, which Sir Elton also sued in April.

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Excite@Home, the embattled US internet company has dumped its auditor Ernst & Young LLP, which earlier expressed doubts over the dotcom’s ability to continue as a going concern. E&Y said there was ‘substantial doubt’ as to whether the access provider and media company could stay in business. But Excite, which has brought in PwC to take over the audit, said it had not had any disagreements with the firm.

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Experts at MRI Moores Rowland have said plans to make companies book employee benefit trust assets could mask the solvency of companies. The mid-tier firm has criticised the urgent issues task force of the Accounting Standards Board just as the ASB has closed its consultation period on the proposals.

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Venture capitalists are the latest to get the jitters over the state of the economy, according to a report by Deloitte & Touche. According to the firm’s most recent private equity confidence survey, four out of five venture capitalists believed the economy would not improve over the next six months.

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