Companies warned on international standards deadline

Peter Holgate, technical partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, said this week companies needed to prepare well ahead of 2005 – the deadline for European countries to adopt the single set of standards – because financial reports always include comparative statements from consecutive years.

Analysts and investors will face huge problems if previous years’ financial reporting is done using both national and international standards, he warned.

The Big Five firm commissioned a survey following a European Commission proposal in June which if approved by the European Parliament and Council of Minister will force all 7,000 listed companies to adopt a single set of accounting rules by 2005.

Chief finance officers of more than 700 companies in 16 different European countries have been polled to find out what they think of the EC’s 2005 deadline and what difficulties they expect in introducing IAS.

The move away from national standards to IAS – endorsed in May by Iosco, the club of international stock market regulators – has been increasingly driven by the explosion of internet and the information society, explained Mary Keegan, head of global reporting and international accounting standards.

Citing the benefits, Peter Holgate, senior accounting technical partner, said: ‘Companies will be better understood. It’ll reduce the cost of capital and raise equity if people understand the risk.’

Unlike most national standards, IAS are investor-driven in that they disclose more information in financial reports.

‘When there’s obscurity people don’t know the risks and make the worst of assumptions,’ he said. ‘We assume IAS will be less risky. The more successful in raising money the European equity markets can be, the better they can compete with US markets.’

The survey is expected to be released on 27th November 2000.

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