FirstFT: Companies and accountants attack UK ‘overburdensome regulation’

Companies and accountants have attacked sweeping plans to overhaul UK auditing and corporate governance following financial scandals, claiming the changes would stifle businesses’ growth and increase costs.

The Quoted Companies Alliance, which represents small and medium-sized listed companies, said the cost of “overburdensome regulation” was already shrinking public markets and the reforms risked “worsening the situation”.

KPMG, one of the Big Four auditors, said the plans to overhaul auditing practices would not improve the quality of scrutiny of financial statements.

The government is proposing to shake up auditing and corporate governance after a series of financial scandals including BHS, Carillion and Patisserie Valerie. A public consultation on the business department’s white paper on the reforms ends today.

Five more stories in the news

1. Gates Foundation unveils break-up plan The $50bn charitable foundation has announced a plan that would allow Melinda French Gates to resign as co-chair and receive “personal resources” from her estranged husband for her own philanthropic effort if she or Bill Gates decided they could no longer work together.

Melinda French Gates
Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates have built the foundation over the past 21 years from the fortune Bill amassed as Microsoft’s co-founder © Bloomberg

2. Haiti’s president assassinated Haiti has been thrust into turmoil after its president, Jovenel Moïse, was assassinated in the early hours of Wednesday in his private home on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince. Police said they shot dead four people suspected of the killing and arrested two others.

3. UK-EU antitrust co-operation The sides are planning to work more closely through sharing information and investigations, a rare bright spot in the post-Brexit relationship. The plans under negotiation include being able to sit in on confidential oral hearings and co-ordinating requests for evidence from companies suspected of anti-competitive behaviour.

4. Trump sues Facebook, YouTube and Twitter The former president said yesterday that he would lead class actions against the Big Tech platforms as well as their chief executives Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey and Sundar Pichai in lawsuits alleging “unlawful censorship” of Americans.

  • More tech trouble: US antitrust enforcers have accused Google of overcharging developers who sell through its Android Play store.

5. Downing Street’s cladding plea The UK government has asked the nation’s largest lenders, including HSBC chief executive Noel Quinn and NatWest boss Alison Rose, to help come up with swift solutions to the cladding crisis, which has left as many as 2m people unable to sell their homes in the wake of the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire.

Coronavirus digest

  • Scientists accused the UK government of ignoring the threat of “long Covid”, which can last for months or years. Plans to restart quarantine-free foreign travel for double-jabbed England residents will be announced today.

  • Rising infection rates, driven by the Delta variant, have forced Israel to reintroduce restrictions for the first time since January,

  • Federal Reserve officials held a vigorous debate last month on when the US economic rebound would be strong enough for the central bank to start dialling back its stimulus, minutes from its June meeting revealed.

  • About 22m fewer people are in work in advanced economies than before the pandemic, according to research by the OECD.

Follow our live coronavirus blog and sign up for our Coronavirus Business Update newsletter for more Covid-19 news.

The day ahead

ECB ‘core decisions’ Policymakers have agreed the central bank’s first new strategy in almost two decades, which will be announced at 13.00 CET today and is likely to amend the inflation target and address climate change and housing costs. EU economic growth this year will be the fastest in decades, according to the European Commission’s updated forecasts.

Economic data The RICS house price balance releases its latest survey on housing costs in the UK. In the US, economists expect weekly unemployment filings to fall to 350,000 and consumer credit to slightly dip to $18.5bn in May. (FT, WSJ)

Keep up with the important business, economic and political stories in the coming days with the FT’s revamped Week Ahead newsletter. Subscribe here. And don’t miss our FT News Briefing audio show — a short daily rundown of the top global stories.

What else we’re reading

The Conservative money machine Mohamed Amersi, a major party donor, is involved in a legal fight over a proposal that would extend his influence among the Tories. After scandals over Greensill, the funding of Boris Johnson’s Downing Street redecoration and Covid-19 contracts, conflicts over Amersi’s growing sway have highlighted discord within the party about who to accept money from.

Italy’s great survivor Silvio Berlusconi, who for decades has seduced Italy with tales of entrepreneurial daring and stamina, is planning his last act: succession. The question facing one of Europe’s most controversial politicians and businessmen is what will remain after il Cavaliere is gone.

Vladimir Putin’s ‘Champagne’ gambit Last week, Russia’s president signed a law banning imported bottles from using the term “Champagne”, reserving it for domestic production. His ploy was the latest ineffectual protectionist trade measure designed to help struggling local producers, or a sop to his friends with business interests, writes Henry Foy.

It’s coming home England deservedly reached their first football final in 55 years after showing a tranquillity and game intelligence against Denmark last night that they failed to muster three years ago at the World Cup in Russia. Read Simon Kuper’s analysis of the 2-1 victory.

Price increase filtering into your morning brew Coffee bean prices on international markets have surged as crops in top producer Brazil have been damaged by the worst drought in almost a century. Anti-government protests in Colombia also halted exports this year, driving up prices.

Line chart of ICE arabica ($ per lb) showing Coffee price boils over

Work & Careers

Assumptions about the traditional career path, and its duration, have been overthrown. Nearing retirement presents an opportunity to develop skills. Here’s how to prepare for life after an intense career.

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