B R I E F S

Question of priorities

FT-SE 100 companies are questioning the Accounting Standards Board's approach to standards, says the Edinburgh-based accounts monitor Company Reporting. In the May issue of its monthly journal it quotes the pharmaceuticals group SmithKline Beecham as saying it is "concerned about the rigid interpretation that the accounting profession is adopting".

Although the ASB has made no pronouncement on derivatives, several companies are increasing disclosure in this area, Company Reporting says. Unilever gives the parameters on hedging agreed by the board, BP analyses derivatives taken out for risk management and for trading purposes and Reuters discloses those "in the money" as well as those "out of the money".

Company Reporting says this suggests that if the ASB is to make an impact, it should ensure its standards reflect companies' priorities.

Regulator resigns

Jo Holden is resigning as head of the three Institutes of Chartered Accountants' joint monitoring unit. Formerly a partner with Dearden Farrow, he set up the unit to meet the requirements of the 1986 Financial Services Act. He has yet to decide on his next role, but insists he is leaving by mutual agreement.

Sporting chance

Paul Maxlow-Tomlinson, a senior partner of the Exeter solicitors Stones, has been appointed an arbitrator at the International Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland.

In addition, Mr Maxlow-Tomlinson, a former chairman of the Ski Club of Great Britain and a director of the British Ski Federation, has become a member of the British Academy of Experts in London.

Value for Ulster

The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy today launches a research project into whether competition within Northern Ireland's public services is achieving value for money. The final report, which is due to be published next January, should provide the first independent analysis of the effects of market testing for the province's public services and highlight best practice for the whole of the United Kingdom.

Good communicator

Ernst & Young, the accountancy and management consultancy firm, has been presented with the Gold Quill award by the International Association of Business Communicators for its communication and consultation programme related to its process of change.

Sharon Wallach is consulting editor for the Law pages.

Law Reports on page 15.

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