IAS fightback begins

Proshare, a share investment pressure group, is writing to finance directors of FTSE-500 companies seeking support against an initiative by the International Accounting Standards Board to bring in a new standard making share options an expense.

Proshare’s campaign has picked a selection of high profile company directors from companies like Barclays Bank, William M Mercer, British Telecom, Reed and Asda, who have all said they are ‘very concerned’ by the share options proposal.

The European Commission was this week expected to give its final endorsement to the use of IASs by all listed European companies by 2005, a move that has effectively sanctioned a rule on share options before it even exists.

Proshare’s main concern is that the rule will put European companies at a disadvantage to US companies.

The US has still not agreed to use IASs, instead of US GAAP.

Although he welcomed the EC’s endorsement as helping the move towards more openness and harmonisation, Mike Rake, chairman of KPMG International, said: ‘For this to become reality, the United States will play a pivotal role. We hope that Europe’s move will encourage the US SEC to seriously consider lifting its present requirement for foreign registrants to reconcile IAS financial statements to US GAAP.

‘It would be great progress if SEC acceptance of IAS could also be achieved by 2005.’

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