• The Chinese Institute of Certified Public
Accountants
(CICPA) and the Institute of Chartered
Accountants of Scotland
(ICAS) have signed a memorandum of
understanding…

KPMG United Arab Emirates has launched a
Japanese Desk in what it calls a proactive initiative to help
Japanese companies already operating in the UAE…

PricewaterhouseCoopers UK (PwC) has appointed
Andrew Kail as head of its insurance group…

• The American Institute of Certified Public
Accountants
(AICPA) has welcomed efforts by the US
Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) to simplify US
GAAP…

Asia Pacific

• The Chinese Institute of Certified Public
Accountants
(CICPA) and the Institute of Chartered
Accountants of Scotland
(ICAS) have signed a memorandum of
understanding to develop the profession in the UK and China. The
two accounting bodies will co-operate in research and development,
the education of accountants and auditors, staff and technical
exchanges, internships, joint conferences and developing links with
UK and Chinese universities. CICPA president Liu Zhongli said
developing international co-operation with overseas accounting
bodies was among the major initiatives and strategies for the
Chinese institute. He said the new agreement would greatly help to
promote CICPA’s international development.

• The Monetary Authority of Singapore, the Accounting and
Corporate Regulatory Authority, and the Singapore Exchange have
established the Audit Committee Guidance Committee
(ACGC). The new body will develop practical guidance for audit
committees to strengthen corporate governance practices of listed
companies in Singapore. The ACGC will be chaired by Bobby Chin Yoke
Choong. ACGC members will be drawn from the business community as
well as stakeholder groups such as the Institute of Certified
Public Accountants of Singapore, the Law Society of Singapore, the
Singapore Association of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and
Administrators, and the Singapore Institute of Directors.

• Foreign companies operating in China are to pay more corporate
tax as part of reforms aimed at levelling the playing field between
domestic and overseas companies. The Chinese Government is to
introduce a new 25 percent corporate tax rate for both
international and domestic companies. Previously, domestic rates
were 33 percent while many overseas companies paid 15 percent or
less, or were granted tax holidays. Grant Thornton UK China
Group
head Stephen Weatherseed said the tax package also
encourages hi-tech and environmentally friendly industries through
lower 15 percent rates and other incentives.

• The Chinese Institute of Certified Public
Accountants
(CICPA) and the Institute of Chartered
Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) are to award credits
towards each other’s examinations for students who pass subjects in
their own qualification. This is the first agreement of its type
between the CICPA and a professional accountancy body outside
China, the ICAEW said. Under the agreement, members of the CICPA
who have passed all five subjects of the CPA Uniform Exams will be
awarded credits in the professional stage of the ICAEW’s ACA
qualification. They will also be awarded credits at the application
level if they pass subjects including audit and assurance,
financial accounting and taxation. Members of the ICAEW who have
passed the ACA examinations will be awarded credit in the CICPA’s
examinations in auditing, financial management and cost management
modules.

• Japanese firm Ernst & Young ShinNihon
(E&Y) has completed the inward transfer of 1,065 employees from
former PricewaterhouseCoopers Global (PwC) Japanese member firm
Misuzu Audit Corporation. Misuzu announced a wind-down of
operations and split from PwC last year following accounting
scandals. E&Y said the new staff have undergone intensive
training in auditing techniques and tools since early July to
enable them to quickly adapt.

Africa, Middle East, South asia

KPMG United Arab Emirates has launched a
Japanese Desk in what it calls a proactive initiative to help
Japanese companies already operating in the UAE and those
considering investing in the region. According to KPMG, bilateral
trade between Japan and the UAE is growing at almost 5 percent
annually. The Big Four firm said a recent report revealed Japan-UAE
bilateral trade for the first six months of 2007 stood at almost
$19 billion. The new desk will offer services related to Japan’s
Financial Instruments and Exchange Law, new business set-up support
services, feasibility studies, transaction support and Islamic
financial advisory services. Akira Moriwaki, the head of Japanese
desk, commented: “The spectacular increase in Japanese exports to
the UAE highlights the rapid economic growth within the [Gulf
Cooperation Council] region.”

Arab Society for Certified Accountants chair
Talal Abu-Ghazaleh has called for a preliminary meeting next month
at the World Trade Organization headquarters in Geneva, to
officially announce the launch of the Arab Coalition for Bilateral
Trade. “The coalition will support the role of the services sector
in bilateral trade and national economies of the Arab countries.
This preliminary meeting will determine the specifics of
establishing such a coalition; its administration and headquarters
as a regional and private Arab foundation,” Abu-Ghazaleh said.

• The National Board of Accountants and Auditors
Tanzania
is holding a seminar on ‘audit – security, IT and
governance’ on 2 February in the Southern Highlands city of
Morogoro. The seminar is targeted at auditors, accountants, audit
committee members, directors, heads of accounting institutions and
students. Topics for discussion will include auditing and risk
management, effectiveness and challenges of audit committees in
Tanzania, the continuing impact of the Sarbanes Oxley Act on
organisations, auditing in promoting good governance and techniques
for dealing with latest IT-audit related issues.

• The Institute of Chartered Accountants of
Nigeria
(ICAN) is holding its second annual Western
Districts conference in Lagos from 11-14 February. The theme of the
conference is ‘Corporate Governance Re-Engineering: The Challenges
to the Accounting Profession’. The conference will involve two
plenary sessions to address the issues and challenges related to
social responsibility and corporate governance, and the role of
chartered accountants regarding ethics and integrity.

• The Institute of Chartered Accountants of
Pakistan
is seeking applicants from among its final level
accounting students for a student exchange programme with the
Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka and the Institute
of Chartered Accountants of Nepal. The exchange is part of the
South Asian Federation of Accountants’ student exchange
programme.

Europe

• Anthony Kirby has joined Ernst & Young UK as
a director in its regulatory and risk management practice. He was
previously employed at consulting, technology and outsourcing
company Accenture, and is one of 44 new people to join the practice
in the past six months. At Ernst & Young, Kirby will be
responsible for building marketing capabilities and assets within
the regulatory and risk management practice under the broad theme
of convergence.

• The sixth annual Grant Thornton UK Corporate
Governance Review found the number of FTSE 350 companies aspiring
to full compliance with the Combined Code on Corporate Governance
has reached 41 percent – up from 34 percent in 2006. The report
also found that corporate responsibility reporting is moving into
the mainstream. In 2006, just 8 percent of companies saw value in
obtaining some form of external validation. That figure now stands
at 42 percent. Grant Thornton’s review assessed 306 FTSE 350
companies.

PricewaterhouseCoopers UK (PwC) has appointed
Andrew Kail as head of its insurance group. He replaces Clare
Thompson who is now the head of the firm’s expanding financial
services risk advisory services group. PwC financial services
leader Chris Jones said: “The insurance sector is changing faster
than at any time in its history and we must ensure that our
approaches to helping our insurance clients are effective and that
they reflect the position of a market leader. Andrew has extensive
experience of the insurance sector and is well placed to deliver
this strategy for our clients.”

Ernst & Young UK has admitted four new
partners to its tax practice. Employer services partner Graham
Farquhar, VAT indirect tax partner Kevin MacAuley and real estate
partner Matt Maltz are based in London. Human capital partner Giles
Capon is from the Bristol office. Commenting on the admissions, the
firm’s head of tax, Paul Davies, said: “It is always a pleasure to
recognise and reward the achievements of individuals. As a firm, we
have great confidence in our people and their ability to offer our
clients deep sector knowledge and expertise while providing a high
quality service.”

Smith & Williamson, a Nexia International
UK member firm, has promoted Natasha Lee to director within its
assurance and business services department. The firm said Lee
provides audit and assurance services to a range of corporate
clients, specialising in the financial services sector, property
and media-related businesses. Her other areas of expertise include
assisting companies in their transition from UK GAAP to
International Financial Reporting Standards and due diligence
investigations on acquisitions.

• The Association of Chartered Certified
Accountants
(ACCA) Ireland has appointed Kevin Kernan as
its new head. Kernan joins the institute from Engineers Ireland,
where he was director general. On his appointment, Kernan said: “I
am delighted to be joining ACCA Ireland at a time when the
membership and reputation is growing in this country. I look
forward to engaging with all ACCA Ireland members, affiliates and
students to enhance the services we provide for them and ensure
their needs and expectations are reflected in our strategies.”


North America, Latin America

Alvarez & Marsal (A&M) has appointed Dan
Powell as managing director at the firm’s New York office. Powell
joined from US consulting firm McKinsey & Company and brings
more than 25 years of experience as an operating general manager,
mergers and acquisitions specialist, and senior strategist for
high-growth and established businesses. He has served as a chief
executive and an adviser to boards of directors and private equity
partners of companies in operating and financial turnaround
situations. A&M New York Turnaround and Restructuring practice
head Joe Bondi commented: “Dan has a proven track record for
leading operational restructurings, both as an advisor and in
interim management roles.”

• The Institute of Management Accountants (IMA)
has created a small business financial and regulatory affairs
committee. The 13 member committee will address business issues
unique to small companies. It will advocate for small businesses on
the development of standards, interpretations and pending
legislation proposed by US and international organisations. IMA
president and chief executive Paul Sharman said the institute
created the committee to help support small businesses in their
financial reporting and operations. “By addressing certain
financial reporting issues early in the process, we hope the
committee will help small businesses by minimising compliance
burdens and rejecting one-size-fits-all regulation,” he said.

• US professional services firm Wegner has
announced the appointment of Katy Mering as a new partner. Mering
joined Wegner in 1997 after working at Fishkin Horman &
Associates for nine years before the two firms merged. Mering has
significant experience with individual and small business tax
compliance and planning. She also specialises in providing
financial and tax planning services.

• The American Institute of Certified Public
Accountants
(AICPA) has welcomed efforts by the US
Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) to simplify US GAAP as
part of its codification project. AICPA president and chief
executive Barry Melancon commented: “For a long time, many users
have said that GAAP is confusing. The codification represents a
simplification of the enormous body of accounting standards. It
renders GAAP more understandable and accessible for research.”
FASB’s Accounting Standards Codification project involves
organising thousands of pronouncements into a single and easily
accessible source. This week, FASB launched the verification phase
of the project in which constituents are encouraged to trial and
provide feedback on the system.

• US Securities and Exchange Commission chair
Christopher Cox told an American Institute of Certified Public
Accountants conference “IFRS is coming, XBRL [eXtensible Business
Reporting Language] is coming and mutual recognition is coming”.
Cox said XBRL is on the threshold of becoming the universal
language of business information and will “do for information
sharing what IFRS will do for financial reporting”.