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October Essential News

News, Accountancy Age awards shortlist, Technical Update, and more...

JJB/Sports Direct probe
The Serious Fraud Office has launched an investigation into alleged cartel
practices between sports retailers JJB Sports and Sports Direct, following a
referral from the Office of Fair Trading. JJB Sports said it had approached the
OFT in January with suspected cartel offences under former CEO Chris Ronnie.

London above 5,000
The FTSE-100 index finished at 5,004.30 on 9 September breaking the 5,000
barrier for the first time in more than a year and providing another green
shoot. Will we end the year above the 4,500 roof our panel of FDs predicted at
the beginning of 2009?

GM Europe sold
General Motors will sell its European business to Canadian car parts
manufacturer Magna International, which means that Vauxhall and Opel will be
placed in Magna’s ownership. The move potentially puts 1,400 jobs at Vauxhall’s
Luton plant at risk, though Magna said it will keep Ellesmere where 2,500 staff

BoE rates on hold
The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee voted to keep Bank Rate at 0.5%
on 10 September. The Committee decided to continue with its programme of asset
purchases totalling £175bn financed by the issuance of central bank reserves,
adding that it will take another two months to complete.

Bernanke gets second term
Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke was given a second term in office by
President Obama. Obama said Bernanke was “an expert on the causes of the Great
Depression” and he thought the chairman “never imagined that he would be part of
a team responsible for preventing another”.

Diageo Scotland trouble
Kilmarnock is facing job losses if drinks giant Diageo presses on with plans to
close the Johnnie Walker bottling plant in the town, as Scotland’s finance
secretary John Swinney defended the government-backed alternative which the
group turned down.

AA Awards shortlist
Our sister title Accountancy Age’s awards are upon us again as the
great and the good judged scores of entries and drew up the shortlist. Winners
will be announced at a gala dinner on 18 November. See for the shortlists in the other categories ­ and to
book your table to cheer on your favourite!

* Financial Director of the Year ­ Blue Chip
Richard Meddings, Standard Chartered; Andrew Jenner, Serco; Colin Day, Reckitt
Benckiser; Nigel Wilson, UBM; Andrew Martin, Compass Group; Warren Tucker,

* Financial Director of the Year ­ Growing Business
Winnie Armah, Steps Drama Learning Development; Melissa Foux, Gü; Russel
McBurnie, Tenon; Nick Tiley, Grant Instruments; Chris Mills, Hall Fire
l Financial Director ­ Public Services & Voluntary Sector
Stephen Fitzgerald, London Borough of Hounslow; Peter Kane, Home Office; Stuart
McCreadie, Moat Homes

* Annual Report and Accounts ­ Business
Costain Group; HSBC; Marks & Spencer; Morrisons; National Grid; PartyGaming

* Annual Report and Accounts ­ Public and Voluntary Sector
Buying Solutions; Channel 4; CIMA; Companies House; DCMS; Highways Agency

* Finance Team of the Year ­ Business
EMC; Innocent Ltd; GL Hearn Ltd; Gold Medal Travel Group; Sony UK

* Finance Team of the Year ­ Public and Voluntary
Ealing Council; Environment Agency; Home Office; Learning Trust; RCT Homes

Bank regulation
The oversight body of the
Basel Committee on Banking
announced a set of measures designed to strengthen the
regulation, supervision and risk management of the banking sector. These
measures are intended to substantially reduce the probability and severity of
economic and financial stress. The key measures include: (a) raising the
quality, consistency and transparency of the Tier 1 capital base which must
predominantly comprise ordinary shares and retained earnings; all components of
the capital base will be fully disclosed; (b) introducing a leverage ratio as an
additional measure to the risk-based framework; (c) a minimum global standard
for funding liquidity; and (d) a framework for countercyclical capital buffers
above the minimum requirement.

Competition law
has published responses to the April 2009 joint
CC/Office of Fair Trading consultation paper on merger assessment guidelines. Of
the 17 published responses, 13 came from law firms, barristers and legal
associations, three from consultancies and one from a corporate, Google. RBB
Economics cautioned: “We would be concerned if the authorities’ apparent
intention to downplay the role of market definition were to lower the threshold
for intervention by failing fully to take account of the wider market context in
which proposed mergers take place.”

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