FTSE firms 'break accountancy rules'

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Eight companies in the FTSE 100 broke regulations that govern how firms should allot profits by not disclosing enough information in their accounts this year about the cost of their pension scheme, a City actuary said yesterday.

Marconi, British American Tobacco, ICI, Celltech, Land Securities, Powergen, Spirent and Vodafone were singled out for criticism by Lane Clark & Peacock.

The findings do not suggest these companies falsely described their profit in this year's results, but they reflect a lack of clarity about the accounts.

Alex Waite, Partner of Lane Clark & Peacock, said: "If companies do not disclose details properly, you cannot see what is going on, whereas where there is full disclosure, anyone looking at the accounts is fully aware of the cost of a company's pension scheme."

Lane Clark & Peacock surveys all of the companies in the FTSE 100 index annually to see whether they adhere to an accounting rule called SSAP24.

It requires companies to provide enough information to give investors a reasonable level of knowledge about their pensions costs and, by extension, the state of their profit and loss accounts.