News in brief.

Mid-tier firm Bentley Jennison has strengthened its presence in the Midlands by merging with small firm Dawes & Co. The firm, which will trade under the name Bentley Jennison, now has 11 partners and 150 staff in Birmingham. Competition between firms in the region is escalating with the decision by UK-quoted accountancy consolidator Tenon to locate an office there. Tenon’s office, managed by two former HLB Kidsons partners, offers a range of services that compete directly with Bentley Jennison. A spokesperson for Bentley Jennison said, for the time being, the firm did not feel under threat from its presence.

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Aston Villa Football Club has promoted its finance director Mark Ansell to the post of deputy chief executive. According to the club, Ansell was promoted as he extended his role beyond that of FD in the four years following his appointment. The club added it had interviewed external candidates for the position, but ultimately opted for Ansell. The chartered accountant will retain his post at the helm of Aston Villa’s finances.

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CIMA is teaming up with the Big Five for the launch of its Business Management Week, due to take place from September 24 to 28. The conference will be spearheaded by a global research project entitled Harnessing creativity to increase the bottom line. The project follows on from last year’s, which highlighted the difficulties in recruiting and retaining staff and aims to find out how to nurture talent and measure the impact of creativity.

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Two out of three SMEs believe further employment legislation will lead to more unemployment, according to a survey from the UK200 Group of chartered accountants. The survey also revealed a similar number were opposed to joining the euro and ditching the pound. Only 5% of respondents felt prospects for business over the next six months were worse than this time last year.

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An ICAEW survey has revealed nearly half of the accountancy profession believe the UK should adopt the euro. The poll signified support for the euro could be growing, although the majority of respondents did not think the UK should commit to a specific timetable for joining. Of the more than 5,000 accountants questioned, 49% said the UK should change its currency. A further 31% recommended a ‘wait and see’ policy, and delaying any ‘in principle’ decision to join. The study contrasted with polls of the general public, some of which have shown support as low as 20%.

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Students at the ICAEW will in the future be known as ‘provisional members’, after a decision at the institute’s annual general meeting this week. Meeting on Tuesday, the agm made the decision despite opposition from students who claimed the move made them sound ‘transient’. One said the institute could be making a rod for its own back if it wanted to distance itself from result night high-jinks.

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Wilkins Kennedy and Hugill, the London and South-East based accountancy firms, have merged to create a new 30-partner firm. Wilkins Kennedy has five offices in central London and around the M25, while Hugill has offices in Heathrow, Waltham Cross and Cambridge. Terry Feller, Hugill’s managing partner, said: ‘Wilkins Kennedy resources will enable us to add VAT planning and corporate recovery work to our existing services.’

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A US Senate team is to examine the financial management of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The OECD has said it is ‘taking action’ to help the investigation team. The confirmation comes after a senior senator wrote to the US government’s Department of State.

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The foot-and-mouth crisis could reduce the UK’s gross domestic product by between £2.5bn and £8bn, according to estimates by PricewaterhouseCoopers’ macroeconomics unit. The analysis expects the tourism industry to be hit more than agriculture, with the former carrying about 65% of the economic impact. It expects the shortfall in tourism revenue to be between £2.3bn and £6.9bn.

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