Mark Hynes - thoughts on corporate disclosure

Opinions on changing rules, changing best practices, and their effect on investor relations officers.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Has the tide turned for UK Plc?

Maybe the speech delivered by Gordon Brown this week will mark a major change in the regulations applicable to companies across Europe – but especially in the UK. At the same time as ending of the OFR requirement, the Chancellor challenged companies to identify areas of excessive regulation.

To quote from Mr Brown – “Best practice is of course for companies to report on social and environmental strategies relevant to their business. But I understand the concerns about the extra administrative cost of the goldplated regulatory requirement that from April next year all quoted companies must publish an operating and financial review. So we will abolish this requirement and reduce the burdens placed upon you - the first of a series of regulatory requirements which by working together we can abolish in the interests of the British economy.”

And at the same time, Mr Brown estimates that around 1,300 of Britain's biggest companies will benefit from the decision and save £33m into the bargain.

So the good news is that mandatory OFR’s – on which so much time, heart-ache and planning has been expended – are to be done away with.

Of course, would it not have been nice if those behind the OFR requirement had not tried to introduce it in the first place?

And that is exactly the point that a cast of characters – from Charlie McCreevy, the EU’s Internal Market Commissioner, to Andrew Whittaker of the UK regulator FSA, have been saying. Both have pointed out the problems of “gold plating” of financial regulation, where in the process of translation of EU regulations into UK law, we wind up with new burdens not intended by the EU.


Which brings us to the challenge that faces UK listed companies. Are there areas of regulation that are excessively gold plated, and which could be ended? If you can identify some, the Investor Relations Society and its Policy Committee would love to hear from you.

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