Finance bosses puzzled by audit reform plans

Market Chatter-Corporate finance press digest

Please read our Legal Terms & Policies Pricewaterhousecoopers The finance bosses of the countrys biggest firms have claimed that they dont understand the Competition Commissions hard-hitting proposals to reform the audit market, which is dominated by just four accountants. The regulator is demanding that listed firms ask accountants to pitch for the job of checking over their numbers every five years, in a move designed to foster greater competition. At present, more than 90 per cent of FTSE 350 firms are audited by one of only KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte and EY, in what smaller accountants argue is a closed club that proves costly to shareholders. In some cases, the same Big Four firm has audited the accounts of a company for more than a century. However, the 100 Group of finance directors from the FTSE 100 blue chip index, has bashed mandatory tendering.

* German bank Hypo Real Estate (HRE) plans to start a bidding process in the next few weeks to sell its public finance specialist unit, Depfa, a person with knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Sunday. * BATS Global Markets Inc, the third-largest U.S. stock exchange, is in advanced talks to merge with smaller rival Direct Edge Holdings LLC, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday, citing sources familiar with the matter. * Alibaba Group is planning a management structure that would allow its partners to nominate the board and retain control over decision-making after it goes public, the Hong Kong Economic Times (HKET) daily reported on Friday. * Goldman Sachs Group Inc put four senior technology specialists on administrative leave after a trading glitch that led to a flood of erroneous options trades, the Financial Times reported, citing people familiar with the situation.

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