Sir Bryan Nicholson, head of the new accountancy watchdog, said he welcomed the ‘recent discussions to encourage a constructive dialogue between companies and investors’ as well as the new framework set up by the Combined Code (based on the Higgs recommendations) and the Institutional Shareholders Committee’s Statement of Principles.
But he said that governance guidelines put out by investor organisations created difficulties for companies who did not know which ‘competing and sometimes conflicting guidelines’ to follow.
‘No one would disagree that it is desirable for investors to have a clear policy on corporate governance but after the recent developments of a multiplicity of institutional codes, it is easy to see how companies can feel they are getting mixed messages and are therefore uncertain how to act,’ Sir Bryan said.
He pointed to the Combined Code as evidence that it was possible to arrive at a ‘single document’.
‘It was not easy either with the Combined Code – but it was achieved and the effort has proved worthwhile.’
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