Accounting and Audit

Good News – Autonomy CFO Jailed

Good news – former CFO of public company jailed for fiddling the accounts. Oh to see that happen more often so as to deter manipulation of accounts that is so prevalent and so damaging to investors. Sushovan Hussain, the former CFO of software company Autonomy, was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment by a US Court yesterday plus he was fined $4 million and ordered to forfeit $6.1 million he made from the sale of the company to Hewlett-Packard. He won’t even be ...

Warren Buffett and FCA Review of RDR & FAMR

There was an interesting article on the career of Warren Buffett in the last FT Weekend magazine. It was a wide-ranging interview with the renowned investor who became one of the richest persons in the world by making investments which consistently outperformed the markets over the last 50 years. At age 88 he still claims to be having fun by working at investment. But in the last ten years he has fallen behind the S&P index. The reason is primarily because he ...

Horizon Discovery – Defective Accounting Discovered

Horizon Discovery Group (HZD) announced their full year results this morning. Horizon is a biotechnology company focused on cell engineering and CRISPR screening. Revenue was up by 68% to £58.7 million helped by an acquisition. But the “reported loss” increased to £35.8 million due to the exceptional write-off of past investment in “In Vivo”. Although this is a non-cash impairment it suggests that there was past over-optimism in the viability of that business unit and excessive capitalisation of development expenditure. This ...

Audit Market Shake-Up, Ocado on TV, and Judges Scientific Presentation

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) have issued their final recommendations to improve competition in the audit market after an earlier public consultation. This follows widespread concerns over the dominance of the big four audit firms, the lack of apparent competition on price or quality, and repeated complaints about the quality of audits following several big and small company failures. Audit firms seem to have got off relatively lightly if the CMA’s recommendations are implemented by the Government. Here’s a brief ...

Grant Thornton, Interserve and Arc Fund Management

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) have announced an investigation into the audits by Grant Thornton of the accounts of Interserve (IRV) in the years 2015-2017. Interserve was a large outsourcing company with most of its business from Government contracts. It ran out of cash and went into administration on the 15th March with debts of £738 million. Readers will no doubt be aware that Grant Thornton were also the auditors of Patisserie Holdings and Globo, both cases where very substantial fraud ...

Patisserie and Interserve Administrations, plus Brexit latest

Yesterday the administrators (KPMG) of Patisserie (CAKE) issued their initial report. It makes for grim reading. The hole in the accounts was much worse than previously thought with an overstatement of net assets of at least £94 million. That includes: Intangible assets overstated by £18m; Tangible assets overstated by £5m; Cash position overstated by £54m; Prepayments and debtors overstated by £7m; Creditors understated by £10m. The accounts were clearly a total fiction. It is uncertain whether there will even be sufficient assets ...

FRC Revolution to Fix Audit and Accounting Problems

A major announcement that will impact investors was made yesterday by the Government. You may not have noticed it in the midst of political turmoil, but it’s worth studying. The Kingman review of the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) was published last December. It was a quite damning criticism of many aspects of the current regulatory regime that had resulted in so many audit failures and poor-quality financial reporting. See my previous blog post on this subject here: https://roliscon.blog/2018/12/18/all-change-in-the-audit-world/ There are few experienced investors ...

Another Accounting Scandal – Goals Soccer Centres

Yet another problem in accounting has been revealed at Goals Soccer Centres (GOAL). This morning they disclosed in a trading update the discovery of “certain accounting errors” and are reviewing their accounting practices. As a result, the board now expects full year results to be below expectations and publication of the 2018 results has been delayed. The even worse news is that they have breached their banking covenants so are having to have one of those difficult conversations with their bankers. The ...

Metro Bank, Improving Accounts, Patisserie, Telford Homes and GoCompare

Originally posted 28th February 2019 The latest example of a public company publishing misleading accounts is Metro Bank (MTRO). Both the FCA and PRA (the bank regulator) are looking into the “misclassification” of some loans which resulted in the bank overstating its regulatory capital. The result was that it has had to do an equity share issuance to bolster its capital. There was a very good letter to the FT today on the subject of improving accounting and audits from Tim Sutton. He ...

The Unstoppable Glacier of Government’s Concerted Actions?

By Cliff Weight, Director, ShareSoc We sometimes see things changing at a glacier-like pace. But once a glacier starts moving it has huge momentum and is unstoppable. My question is: is this metaphor applicable to the way Government is behaving with regard to business? The civil servants who drive Government policy transcend the short lives of Parliament. Taking this perspective what do we see? My take on this is as follows. The Financial Crisis terrified nearly everyone. We stared into the abyss. We were ...