British Business Slow to Introduce Accountability Reforms

The Birmingham Post (England), December 12, 2002 | Go to article overview

British Business Slow to Introduce Accountability Reforms


Firms are still falling short of high standards of transparency and accountability in Britain a year after corporate collapses and accounting failures shook trust in global markets, reveals a report out today.

The demise of Enron and WorldCom in the US fuelled shareholders' demands across the world for a greater say in company management, particularly over executive pay, oversight of boards and financial reporting.

However, according to a report by UK shareholder activist group PIRC, still only one third of British companies meet the country's voluntary standards on corporate governance, three years after the Combined Code was introduced.

'There is still more to fix than there is to celebrate,' said Stuart Bell, research director at PIRC.

'On some significant structural fronts there are still pretty high non-compliance levels with the Combined Code.'

The report highlights a number of crucial areas where British business has been slow to reform.

It says too many companies still combine the roles of chief executive and chairman, blurring lines of accountability, while too few have sufficient numbers of independent directors to oversee management and voice shareholders' concerns.

PIRC says that 75 per cent of boards are controlled by directors who are not independent, while four per cent have no independent directors at all.

The independence of pay and nomination committees is questionable in many companies. …

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