News in brief – 17 September

Stoys fee income rise

BDO Stoy Hayward will confirm next week a near 15% increase in fee income up to March 1998, lifting it to #122m. The firm, which saw a 31.1% increase in tax work and a 7.4% decrease in insolvency work, closed the gap on Grant Thornton, which registered income of #123m.

BCCI auditors offer to settle

PricewaterhouseCoopers and Ernst & Young could escape further legal action over their BCCI audit if the collapsed bank?s liquidator Deloitte & Touche accepts an offer to settle the case for $300m (#200m). PwC is expected to come up with $250m to settle the $4bn claim against the two firms, while E&Y is preparing to offer $50m.

PwC advises on takeover

Slough Estates is being advised by PricewaterhouseCoopers over its #264m hostile takeover bid for industrial property group Bilton, in a move which could help establish accountancy firms in the corporate finance market. Led by PwC partner Simon Boadle, the bid is reported to be the largest hostile offer on which the corporate finance arm of an accountancy firm has advised. ?A deal like this is obviously not launched frivolously. We wouldn?t do it if we didn?t think there is a good chance of it succeeding,? Boadle said.

Minimum wage responsibility

The merged Inland Revenue and Contributions Agency will have overall responsibility for enforcing the national minimum wage, trade and industry minister Ian McCartney has announced. He said the new amalgamated agency, with its ?expertise in checking pay records?, will be ideally placed to take on this new and important work when they are combined into a single body next year. ?We will of course ensure that enforcement is fair to workers and employers alike, and is delivered in a way that minimises burdens on business and provides maximum value for the taxpayers? money.? Shadow trade and industry secretary John Redwood said the news would worry companies who would have to create a new massive bureaucracy to prepare records for the agency to examine.

LibDems asked to back VAT

Next week?s Liberal Democrat conference is to be asked to back the raising of the VAT threshold for small and medium-sized businesses. Treasury spokesman Malcolm Bruce will also call for the replacement of the uniform business rate with a new tax, based on the development value of land with planning permission, when he speaks to the economic debate at the Brighton gathering on Tuesday.

Edinburgh firms merge

Edinburgh-based top 20 accountancy firm Haines Watts has merged with J Douglas Pearson & Co, another Edinburgh firm which was formed 18 months ago. The move sees Haines Watts establish a second office in the city, with Douglas Pearson becoming a senior partner as part of the deal. Pearson said his office would continue to offer a personal, cost-effective service to clients but now had the added benefit of the various specialisms that Haines Watts could provide.

Councillor sentenced

A former Labour councillor on Doncaster council was jailed for eight months this week, after admitting to four charges of claiming false expenses worth #2,000 and four charges of false accounting. At Doncaster crown court, Judge Jonathan Crabtree sentenced Mick Collins to six months in jail for claiming false expenses and an additional two months for false accounting while he was treasurer of Adwick Branch Labour Party. He was ordered to pay Adwick Labour Party #1,752 compensation.

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