Finance: In Brief

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PENSION FUNDS could face huge bills following a High Court ruling in the BT Pension Scheme case that underwriting share issues in return for payment of commissions amounted to trading, and gave rise to taxable profits. Advisers at KPMG warn that this could lead to them paying at least pounds 200m in back tax.

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UK ACCOUNTANTS believe that the year 2000 will bring job losses, a rise in the failure rate of small businesses and place their own practices in jeopardy because of clients demanding more from them, according to research from Sage, the leading supplier of accountancy software for small- and medium-sized enterprises. The survey of more than 1,000 accountancy practices indicates that while almost all accountants are aware of the Millennium Bug, only about half have systems fully compliant with the year 2000.

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THE INSOLVENCY Practitioners Association and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors have teamed up to establish a scheme for the registration and monitoring of "fixed charge" receivers. Such receivers, who are insolvency specialists appointed by secured creditors over specific assets covered by fixed charges, such as property or machinery, have hitherto been completely unregulated, and the scheme marks a further step towards standardising the profession.

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PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS is urging businesses to take immediate recession- proofing action by examining past movements in sales and benchmarking themselves against competitors. John Soden, co-leader of the firm's business regeneration unit, says: "Businesses need to do more than tighten cash management. Competitive struggle is intensified in recession and businesses at the edge of the herd will be the first to be picked off by the wolves."

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THE CHARTERED Institute of Management Accountants is stepping up its presence in India with the first of a series of practical business forums in Bombay. The organisation's strategy for the subcontinent is to provide a service to the multinational and joint-venture companies wishing to train financial managers within their organisations.

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FORTY FOUR per cent of the UK's marketing managers expect to miss their sales targets as a result of the economic slowdown, according to the latest marketing trends survey from the Chartered Institute of Marketing. The figure - the highest proportion ever - backs up the lowest recorded level of the Institute's sales plan confidence index.

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STOCK MARKET volatility means that the potential cost of fund managers' back-office errors is two to three times greater than it was a year ago, according to a report from Latchly Management. It points out that adverse market movements can give rise to significant costs, due either to a market opportunity being lost or corrective action having to be taken when market conditions are unfavourable.

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MORE THAN half of Britain's leading companies fail to release their preliminary results within the 60-day time frame recommended by the Accounting Standards Board, according to research from KPMG Management Consulting. John Fanning of KPMG warns companies that failure to meet the newly-introduced guidelines will create a poor impression among analysts about their management efficiency.

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