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May 18, 2009

Region Round-up

Asia-Pacific

Deloitte Australia has launched an online accounting service designed for small- to medium-size businesses, providing them with the ability to securely record transactions, monitor performance and prepare financial reports.

Deloitte partnered with Irish software company Visor, developer of accountsIQ, to develop the online accounting platform that allows real time collaboration with its network of advisers, such as accountants, bank managers, business mentors or franchisers.

Deloitte Digital chief executive Peter Williams said it could change the nature of the client-accountant relationship from a ‘once a year’ contact to an ongoing conversation.

• The chairman of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), CB Bhave, has said the market regulator will bear the cost of a peer review of all Nifty and Sensex companies’ accounting statements to avoid another Satyam-like financial scandal.

Bhave said SEBI will pay for the peer review fees so there is no conflict of interest in the minds of investors. The board will review how to fund the exercise in the future.

The regulator has also decided to subject some listed companies outside of the Nifty and the Sensex, who will be chosen on a random basis, to be reviewed. The Satyam scandal came to light in January when the software company’s founder and chair Ramalinga Raju wrote to the Satyam board, admitting to fraud totalling more than INR7,000 crore ($1.44 billion).

• John Alexander has been appointed a principal and joins the management team of New Zealand firm MGI Auckland. Alexander’s appointment follows the merger of the accounting practice JSA with MGI Auckland on 1 April.

Alexander has a particular interest in risk management projects and works with a client base of small- to medium-sized family businesses. The firm said his appointment will provide an additional opportunity to ensure MGI Auckland meets the demands and opportunities ahead.

Deloitte Global managing partner of operations Manoj Singh has been appointed to the US-India Business Council’s (USIBC) board of directors. USIBC is a business advocacy organisation comprised of US and India companies that aims to strengthen trade between the two countries. Prior to his current role, Singh was chief executive of Deloitte Asia Pacific.

• Andrew Conway has officially taken over as chief executive of the National Institute of Accountants (NIA) in Australia. Conway was previously deputy chief executive. His promotion follows the departure of Michael Carmody. Conway has managed the NIA’s technical, advocacy and international divisions as deputy chief executive since early 2007 and became acting chief executive after Carmody’s departure. The institute said the details of Carmody’s departure are confidential.

• The Chinese Institute of Certified Public Accountants has issued guidance and launched a website to help the accounting profession combat the financial crisis and enhance market confidence. The guidance reinforces the importance of the profession’s ethical responsibilities and calls on the profession to strengthen quality assurance, risk control and internal governance.

• The Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ Federation of Accountants (AFA) has agreed to accelerate the development of mutual recognition agreements among its member bodies. The AFA framework is intended to facilitate the negotiations for mutual recognition of accountancy services between AFA members by providing a structure for these agreements. To assist the process, the Indonesian Institute of Accountants and the Malaysian Institute of Accountants have been asked to share their experience in negotiating the first bilateral mutual recognition agreement.

• The Australian Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (AUASB) has issued guidance, ‘Auditing Considerations in an Uncertain Economic Environment’, which outlines issues auditors should consider when undertaking their work.

AUASB chairman Merran Kelsall said auditors may need to make significant changes to their audit procedures to address financial reporting issues.

Europe

Mazars UK has strengthened its forensic and investigation services with three senior appointments. Tom Mitchell has joined from KPMG and will head Mazar’s forensic and investigation services practice in Scotland. Nick Baker, formerly at RSM Bentley Jennison, is to become a senior manager in the Birmingham office. Mark Taylor has joined as partner in the London office from forensic consultancy Lee & Allen.

KPMG UK has made three senior appointments to build its tax practice. Angus Wilson joins as a tax partner in the infrastructure tax group from investment and advisory firm Babcock and Brown. Darren Mellor-Clark joins as associate partner in the indirect tax practice from UBS and Lydia Simpson joins the tax legal services practice as a senior manager from commercial law firm Nabarro.

Caitriona Hunt, the head of the business services tax practice at KPMG UK, said the firm was enjoying strong growth in key areas and that the appointments would enhance the firm’s tax practice capabilities.

• The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) has taken a “significant step” in its strategy to expand international operations by appointing its first Southeast Asia regional director. Mark Billington, who was previously the Asia-Pacific chief executive for telecoms company O2, will be responsible for building the ICAEW’s presence and profile within the region. There are already almost 1,800 ICAEW members in Southeast Asia.

• The terms of all three managing board members of KPMG France have been extended for four years as of 29 April 2009. The board is composed of Jean-Luc Decornoy, Jacky Lintignat and Jay Nirsimloo. Decornoy has been re-appointed as president of the board for a third term. Decornoy also leads the firm’s global audit services and is a member of KPMG International’s executive committee. Lintignat and Nirsimloo will serve as director generals.

Grant Thornton remains the auditor of the most UK Alternative Investment Market (AIM)-Listed clients, despite losing six clients in the last quarter, according to the latest Hemscott auditor rankings. The ranking of the top five AIM auditors in the first quarter of 2009 remained the same as the end of 2008. However, all but fourth-placed Deloitte UK lost clients. Grant Thornton dropped to 207 clients in total, still well clear of second-placed KPMG, which was down five to 183 clients.

BDO Stoy Hayward dropped one client for a total of 133, Deloitte remained steady with 128 clients and PricewaterhouseCoopers dropped four to 110 clients.

PricewaterhouseCoopers UK was among the winners at the 2009 UK Opportunity Now Awards, which recognised organisations working towards gender equality, diversity and inclusion.

The firm won two awards, the first for advancing women in business through its programme Diversity and Strategy and Increasing Women Partners. The firm was also acknowledged for its gender advisory council.

• Ali Kazimi is to join Deloitte UK as a partner in its funds advisory team. He will be leading the asset pooling team. Kazimi has 15 years’ experience and previously worked at Ernst & Young as head of investment and operational taxes.

North America, Latin America

• Baker Tilly International member firm Cherry, Bekaert & Holland (CB&H) has acquired the Miami-based accounting and consulting firm McKean, Paul, Chrycy, Fletcher & Company (MPCF). CB&H’s Florida practice now has 19 partners and more than 150 professionals, which places it as one of the largest firms outside the Big Four in the state.

MPCF’s Jamie Byington and Joel Chrycy will join as tax partners, while Larry Fletcher and Michael Weinstein will join as audit partners.

“The talent and expertise within MPCF builds upon CB&H’s already strong foundation, expanding our solid reputation as industry experts and providers of specialised services in the region,” CB&H partner-in-charge Paul Fedorkowicz said.

• Global professional services firm Alvarez & Marsal has appointed Sandra Dunleavy as a managing director in its financial industry advisory services group.

Dunleavy has more than 30 years of leadership experience in the financial services industry, including 26 years at the Bank of America, where she served in a variety of executive management roles.

A&M financial industry advisory services head Samuel Golden said Dunleavy’s experience and knowledge will serve as valuable assets to the group.

“She brings a truly unique set of expertise having run nearly every banking business unit, from branches to commercial, mortgage and student lending,” he said.

Dunleavy will be based in the firm’s Washington DC office.

Deloitte US has agreed to pay $950,000 to settle a class action lawsuit brought forward by investors in Beazer Homes. The total settlement was worth almost $31 million, with the remaining $30 million to be paid by Beazer Homes and four of its executives.

The class action was filed in 2007 on behalf of investors who bought Beazer securities at allegedly artificially inflated prices between 27 January and 12 May 2008.

Deloitte was the home building company’s auditor at the time. The complaint alleges that the class bought Beazer stocks at prices artificially inflated as a result of the defendants’ dissemination of materially false and misleading statements. In making the settlement, Deloitte denied any wrongdoing or liability.

Alvarez & Marsal has recruited Barron Green as a senior director in the firm’s business consulting practice. Green brings more than 20 years of experience to the firm. He specialises in improving operational performance for communications companies and enhancing the performance of telecommunications systems while reducing overall spending.

Green’s most recent assignments prior to joining A&M included assisting a health care provider renegotiate its current telecom contract.

Previously, Green was a founding management director with Protiviti, an international risk consulting firm.

He was also a partner of Arthur Andersen’s business and risk consulting practices, where he served as the global co-leader of the firm’s revenue assurance practice from 2000 to 2002. Green joins the A&M office in Dallas, Texas.

• Philadelphia firm Shechtman Marks Devor is to join AGN International. The firm has eight partners and 49 staff, and provides audit and tax services to health care professionals and the real estate industry. AGN International is the world’s 18th largest accountancy group, according to last year’s International Accounting Bulletin’s world survey. It admitted Minneapolis firm Froehling Anderson in January.

• One in four of Canada’s leading private companies plan to adopt IFRS, according to a recent study by KPMG Enterprise and the Canadian Financial Executives Research Foundation.

However, participating executives in the study warned that the differences between private company GAAP and IFRS, which will be adopted by public companies by 2011, could present challenges in accessing equity and debt financing if there is inadequate comparability of financial reporting under the two sets of standards. Other concerns came from smaller companies, which were mostly concerned by the cost implications of adopting IFRS.

• US consolidator CBIZ, a member of Kreston International, has reported revenue growth of 12 percent to $220 million for the quarter ended 31 March 2009. Revenue from newly acquired operations, net of divestitures, contributed $26.8 million to revenue growth in this period. CBIZ also repurchased about 838,000 common shares in the first quarter at a cost of approximately $6.7 million.

“We are very pleased with our first-quarter results, which reflect growth in revenue and earnings in line with our expectations for 2009,” CBIZ chairman and chief executive officer Steven Gerard said.

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