And it’s off! Euro’s early success

‘We are now mainly working on cash management and pooling and it has worked out well so far,’ said Felix Lauscher, euro co-ordinator for German chemicals group Hoechst. ‘We had no big disappointments or transition problems. Our accounts are now in euros only.’ A spokeswoman for car giant Daimler-Chrysler said the conversion had been smoother than predicted, while BMW – which is planning to produce its 1999 accounts in euros – put it in plainer terms. ‘The introduction is not so difficult,’ said a spokesman. ‘It’s like a new currency, but the advantage is that we will lose ten others.’ However, the Business and Accounting Software Developers Association repeated its warning that accounting software could buckle under pressure after Customs & Excise insisted UK subsidiaries of euro firms must account for VAT in euros, even if they pay for it in sterling.

There was also a sense of missed opportunity. ‘It is a great shame we were not part of the euro,’ said Mark Wood, UK group chief executive of French insurance giant AXA.

But firms should not become too complacent. ‘The problems will start emerging in the next week or so,’ said Chris Bowles, executive consultant responsible for euro investment banking at Ernst & Young.

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