EU Strikes Compromise On Quarterly Earnings Reports

By Agence France-Presse The European Union on Nov. 25 agreed to a watered-down proposal designed to boost corporate transparency, stopping short of forcing companies to report earnings every three months. The quarterly requirement had been proposed by the European Commission -- the EU's executive arm -- to give investors greater insight into companies' performance. But several member states led by Britain, by far Europe's biggest financial center, said the measure would be a costly piece of extra red tape at a time when the EU is trying to lighten the regulatory load on business. Instead, the compromise agreed by EU finance ministers will require companies to issue a trading statement every quarter that does not have to go into such comprehensive detail as an earnings report. The compromise was pushed by Britain with the support of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, diplomats said. Under the deal, the Commission will review the situation in five years to see if greater transparency is required. The requirement for quarterly earnings reports would have brought the EU in line with corporate practice in the United States. According to the European Commission, about 2,000 of Europe's 7,000 listed companies already publish quarterly reports. The directive "rightly wants to see greater transparency for investors but also involves costs for business," British Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown said earlier this month. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2003

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