Standard Life got a shot in the arm with an upgrade by Moody's Investor Service to ‘stable' from ‘negative' on the basis the downside of demutualization is more limited than previously thought, The Scotsman reports.
The change in outlook for the firm follows a period of 18 months during which Moody’s, like others, have been keeping a close watch on all parts of Standard’s business.
”The rating agency added that Standard Life has made good progress in re-positioning its core UK life and pension business to achieve profitable growth, although it said that ‘further progress is needed ahead of the planned flotation’ in 2006,” The Scotsman writes.
A reduction in equity exposure, cost cutting, removal of enhanced bonus rates linked to the promise of mutuality, and limiting the mortgage endowment promise are also identified as positives steps by the ratings agency.
BIG FOUR ACCOUNTANT KPMG faces a possible criminal trial in the US after tax authorities there obtained an admission by the company it created illegal tax shelters between 1996-2002, writes The Daily Telegraph
The last time US Department of Justice proceeded with the criminal charges against an accountant it was called Arthur Andersen, which promptly collapsed as clients fled in the aftermath of its involvement with Enron.
The Telegraph says US authorities will have to balance desire to pursue KPMG this time round, against the reality that removing AA further concentrated the accounting industry, and could see several thousand more accountants thrown out of work.
TAX INSPECTORS IN the UK meanwhile are set to start a blitz on holders of offshore credit cards, according to law firm DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary, reports The FT.
This comes as part of the Treasury’s ongoing moves to stamp out tax evasion – highlighted in the last Labour administration by a series of announcements by then paymaster general Dawn Primarolo on changes to law to close down on suspected tax loopholes.
FURTHER SPECULATION OVER UK interest rates has been sparked by latest ONS figures showing consumer high street spending continues to cool, reports The Scotsman.
Sales roles just 0.1% in May, taking the annualised rate to 1.3%, the lowest since January 1999.
While the Bank of England’s governor Mervyn King has cited slowing consumption as a major threat to the economy, economists cited by the paper are adamant the Bank will require more evidence of a slowdown before it starts cutting interest rates.
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