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June 30, 2009

Region Round-up

Asia-Pacific

Deloitte China has continued its expansion by opening its 12th office. The Chongqing office will specialise in providing a range of tax and financial advisory services to local companies as well as international clients. It is expected to help state-owned and privately-owned enterprises in Chongqing and neighbouring cities execute a government-backed ‘go abroad’ strategy, and assist foreign investors. Chief executive of Deloitte China Chris Lu said the Chongqing government recently initiated a series of measures to improve the basic infrastructure and attract business service agencies to establish their presence in the city.

“With a GDP growth of 14 percent in 2008, Chongqing is an engine of development for Western China and we believe in the near future it will be one of China’s major industrial and business centres,” Lu said.

Deloitte’s China network covers Beijing, Chongqing, Dalian, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Hong Kong, Macau, Nanjing Shanghai, Shenzhen, Suzhou and Tianjin.

Deloitte Australia tax services superannuation partner Noelle Kelleher has been appointed to the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) by Australian senator Nick Sherry. Kelleher, who has tax and industry expertise, including assurance, actuarial, regulatory compliance, risk, tax, forensic and consulting experience, will serve a three-year term on the council. She is also the former director of a superannuation fund and a regular presenter on superannuation topics at various forums and conferences. Sherry said the appointments were to ensure that the FRC maintained a broad representative base to meet its statutory responsibilities relating to the oversight of accounting and auditing standard-setting in Australia.

• Singapore is to fully converge Singapore Financial Reporting Standards (SFRS) with IFRS for incorporated companies listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange by 2012.

The country’s Minister of Finance, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, made the announcement at a KPMG Singapore IFRS conference recently, adding that Singapore companies have generally been “IFRS-ready” and “IFRS-compliant” in a substantive manner for a number of years. Since 2002, Singapore has embarked on a strategy of closely modelling SFRS on IFRS — deviating from IFRS only in very specific and exceptional instances where there are strong reasons backed by economic and business substance arguments, Shanmugaratnam said. He noted that Singapore had long been an advocate for single global accounting standards and the Singapore Accounting Standards Council’s decision to fully align SFRS with IFRS would further reinforce Singapore’s role as an international business and financial hub.

Kreston International has admitted Australian firm Kennedy & Co as a member. The admission follows the merger between Kreston’s existing Adelaide-based member firm PFA Chartered Accountants with Kennedy & Co at the beginning of 2009. Kennedy and Co, a five-partner firm with 60 professionals, will join the Kreston Australia and New Zealand Group.

Deloitte Malaysia has promoted five executives to senior positions in line with its expansion programme. The promoted executives are: Andrew Lee to consulting executive director; Daniel Lim to tax executive director; Lim Keng Peo to audit principal; Steven Lim to enterprise risk services executive director; and Tan Hoii Beng to tax executive director.

North America, Latin America

Morison International has a new Uruguayan member firm, Veiga Dobrich & Asociados (VD&A). The addition strengthens Morison International’s presence in Latin America, where it already has representatives in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras and Peru. VD&A is based in Montevideo, was founded in 1980 and has 25 professionals and five partners. The firm provides accounting, taxation, auditing, finance and consultancy services, and is focused on national and cross-border client opportunities.

Grant Thornton US has teamed with software company Anybill to provide clients with turnkey sales tax compliance outsourcing. The service is to be provided through Grant Thornton’s national sales tax compliance centre in Charlotte, North Carolina. It provides clients the option to pay state sales and use taxes through Anybill’s integrated, on demand payment and documentation platform for tax returns. The tax returns will be prepared by Grant Thornton.

“The integration of Anybill payment services with our compliance centre offers clients a secure, comprehensive and seamless alternative for coping with monthly sales tax compliance,” commented Brian Murphy, managing partner of Grant Thornton’s state and local tax practice.

Alvarez & Marsal (A&M) has appointed Tom Behnke as a senior director in the firm’s claims management services group. Behnke is an expert in assisting debtors in bankruptcy case administration and claims management. He has more than 20 years of experience and has worked on a number of high-profile restructuring engagements, including Dow Corning Corporation, Delphi Corporation, Enron Corp and Circuit City. Behnke, who will be based in Houston, also brings financial consulting and litigation support experience. His expertise spans the automotive, retail, manufacturing, oil and gas, real estate, health care and financial services sectors.

• Former PricewaterhouseCoopers US partner Melissa Glynn has joined the Alvarez & Marsal (A&M) public sector group. She will spearhead the firm’s federal advisory practice in Washington DC.

“As taxpayers demand more accountability for government spending, federal agencies are in need of better ways to reduce costs and improve operations,” A&M public sector group co-head Bill Roberti said. “Melissa brings extensive client experience, having worked with top federal agencies as well as major universities, health care and financial organisations.”

At PwC, Glynn played a role in developing the federal advisory practice and served as the national engagement partner for services to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Grant Thornton US has appointed Brad Preber as managing partner of its Phoenix and Albuquerque offices. He will be responsible for managing the overall operations, client relations and growth of both offices. Preber, who has more than 25 years of experience in the accounting industry, will maintain his roles as the firm’s national partner in charge of litigation consulting services and the West Region partner in charge of the forensic accounting and investigative services practices. Preber succeeds Ed O’Brien, who is transferring to Texas to head the firm’s Dallas office.

• Ted Telford has been appointed national credits and incentives (C&I) practice senior manager at Grant Thornton US. He will be based in the firm’s Denver office. The C&I practice provides a wide range of traditional corporate real estate services, including portfolio planning, facilities strategic plan development and site selection for new or consolidating operations. Telford will assist clients in identifying and maximising tax credit and other incentives opportunities.

• The world’s largest accountancy firm has revealed it has more than 1,000 women partners, principals and directors. Deloitte US described the feat as a commitment to enhancing the pipeline of women and minority leaders.

In this year’s International Accounting Bulletin survey, Deloitte noted it had 2,942 partners in 2008.

Barbara Adachi, the national managing principal of Deloitte’s Initiative for the Retention and Advancement of Women (WIN), commented: “It is extremely rewarding to see the tremendous progress we have made since launching our Women’s Initiative in 1993.

“Over the past 16 years, we have seen how having a strong group of female leaders inspires new thinking and brings about new approaches to business challenges, which in return enables us to provide the best possible solutions to our clients’ problems.”

Deloitte has increased the number of female partners, principals and directors from 97 back in 1993 to more than 1,000 today. The firm said this is due to a variety of training, mentoring, coaching and succession-planning programmes.

Europe

• Graham Jung has been appointed director of KPMG UK’s investment advisory practice. Jung has more than 20 years of experience in the UK pensions and investment industry. In his new role he will be primarily responsible for providing strategic investment advice to institutional clients. Jung joins KPMG from Goldman Sachs International, where he spent eight years in the prime brokerage business, consulting to institutional and boutique hedge fund managers across Europe and Asia.

PricewaterhouseCoopers UK (PwC) has recruited two former Ernst & Young UK (E&Y) tax staff. Paul Davies, who was previously head of tax at E&Y, has been appointed tax industry leader for PwC’s retail and consumer group. Andrew Dale has been appointed corporate tax partner with PwC’s international and large corporate team in Birmingham. Dale was previously a tax account leader for a number of E&Y’s priority accounts in the international large corporate sector and was responsible for a number of market and people initiatives.

PricewaterhouseCoopers Romania has appointed new assurance and tax partners. Mihai Anita is an assurance partner specialising in retail, while Ruxandra Stoian is a tax partner specialising in human resources services. Anita joined the firm in 1995 and has worked through changes in the economy and the audit profession, including the implementation of IFRS. He will lead the assurance retail/fast moving consumer goods and middle-market private companies services initiatives. Stoian joined the firm in 1997 and leads the HR management/reward practice. The HR consultancy business unit has a strong focus on salary surveys, compensation and benefits advisory, change management as well strategic HR consulting.

• Mid-tier network Ecovis has expanded in Greece, admitting a new partner firm with offices in Thessaloniki and Athens. Ecovis Kosmidis & Partner and Ecovis Hellas have four partners and offer tax consultancy, accounting and legal advice services in English and German.

• David Trunkfield has become the new head of gaming at PricewaterhouseCoopers UK. Trunkfield has been at the firm for eight years and was previously the leader of travel and leisure within the firm’s strategy group. At the firm, he has provided strategic advice, commercial due diligence and market reviews to a wide range of clients in the gaming sector, including Gala Coral, Rank, Genting, Sisal and GTECH.

“During my time looking at the industry, the nature of gambling in Britain has shifted substantially, mainly due to regulatory changes and an increase in the number of gambling products available,” Trunkfield said. “The interplay of these structural changes with the recession has led to gaming companies facing many challenges.”

Prior to PwC, Trunkfield worked at the COBA Group, a boutique strategy consultancy.

JHI International has appointed new executive committee members to represent the Europe, Middle East and Africa region. Maxim Alekseyev of member firm ALRUD Audit Russi is the chairman of the committee. The other members are Emili Batlle of AddVANTE in Spain, Tony Kelly of Byrne Curtin Kelly in Ireland, Helmut Lohrmann of Lohrmann Riehle Laetsch Durach & Kollegen in Germany and Frank Stahl of RP Richter & Partner in Germany.

• The parent company of Liverpool FC was warned about its ability to trade as a going concern and has suffered losses of £42.6 million ($69.3 million). KPMG, the auditors of Kop Football Holdings, said the company must refinance its £350 million debt before 24 July. Kop Football Holdings, owned by US businessmen George Gillett and Tom Hicks, is attempting to re-negotiate a deal with the Royal Bank of Scotland. Latest reports suggest the pair is close to refinancing the loan.

In its audit report, KPMG noted: “The directors have initiated negotiations to secure the replacement finance required by the group and these negotiations are ongoing. These conditions… indicate the existence of a material uncertainty which may cast significant doubt on the group’s and parent company’s ability to continue as a going concern.”

The accounts for the year ended July 2008 showed Liverpool made a £10.2 million profit but the parent company made a substantial loss of £42.6 million, mainly due to interest payments totalling £36.5 million. The owners have been criticised by the club’s supporters for saddling the club with debt.

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