BusinessCompany NewsWeek in review: 18 – 22 November

Week in review: 18 - 22 November

This week saw the accounting industry descend on Hong Kong for the 16th World Congress, while another big energy company collapsed and the controversy surrounding bill padding reached PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Monday

saw Microsoft Business Solutions, which includes recent accounting software acquisitions Navision and Great Plains, reveal heavy losses for the last quarter.

Across the Channel in Brussels plans were being put together to force European companies to report result every three months in a bid to protect investors and prevent Enron-like scandals.

On Tuesday thousands of accountants from over 100 countries descended on Hong Kong for the 16th World Congress of Accountants as the profession sought to find ways to restore its mangled reputation.

But it was not a good day for IT services and consulting group Cap Gemini Ernst and Young after it announced it would lay off about 700 staff over the coming months in the UK as demand for its services continued to fall.

Wednesday, the UK energy sector was dealt another body blow as KPMG and Ernst & Young were appointed administrators for the UK subsidiary of TXU after the US power company failed to pay its debts due to the slump in the energy sector.

Accountancy Age reported that the insolvency market would be thrown wide open under the Enterprise Act as banks would be forced to abandon their ‘preferred insolvency panels’ to deal with practitioners appointed by companies, according to experts.

On Thursday Peter Wyman, president of the ICAEW, said action from government to limit liability for accountancy firms was ‘essential’ or another big name firm could follow Andersen into oblivion. He made these comments at the World Congress of Accountants.

And Accountancy Age exclusively revealed that the controversy surrounding bill padding threatened to reach the Big Four this week after the country’s biggest accountancy firm, PricwaterhouseCoopers admitted it set tough ‘utilisation targets’ for client facing staff

Friday saw the week rounded off with another slap on the wrists for the Ministry of Defence as its accounts were qualified for the fifth year running after the National Audit Office was unable to confirm some figures in the operating cost statement in respect of consumption charges for certain stocks and fixed assets.

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