GPG annual report reveals row with auditors

Click to follow
GUINNESS Peat Group's annual report has revealed an extraordinary disagreement between the company and its auditors, Coopers & Lybrand, writes John Murray.

The company has included restated results for 1991, showing a pre- tax loss of pounds 27.3m against a reported profit at the time of pounds 10.9m. It said it included these figures only under duress and at the insistence of the auditors. The statement described them as 'completely fictitious'.

The restated figures arose out of a change in accounting policies relating to the writing off of goodwill on acquisitions and disposals, and were included in the group's document when its shares were relisted in November.

Blake Nixon, a GPG director, said the company's argument was more with the politics of accounting standards than with Coopers.

'Our auditors said at the time that the pounds 10m profit was a true and fair view of the company's performance; now they insist that under the new UITF standard, a loss of pounds 27m is a true and fair view,' he said. 'Both views cannot be correct.'

He pointed out that the restated figures had no effect on shareholders' funds in the balance sheet.

Coopers refused to comment beyond its auditors' statement in the report and accounts. It said: 'We do not agree with the comments made on page 38 (of the report).'