Daily Media Briefing 14th November

Daily Media Briefing


Posted in: Corporate Reputation, Daily Media Briefing, Employees, Governance

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November 14, 2012


EU softens 40% quota for women directors

The EU is today expected to back diluted proposals pressing for 40 percent of company directors to be female by 2020 after failing to clear the 27-strong commission three weeks ago.  Rather than imposing a 40 percent quota on pain of penalties, the latest draft encourages companies to aim for that level of representation but leaves national governments to decide on how to enforce the rules. The initial plan, that proposed a European wide system of sanctions for non-compliance, was opposed by numerous member governments, orchestrated by Britain. Despite the perception that the initial draft had the support of feminists, several of the most prominent women in the commission, including foreign policy Chief Lady Ashton, voted against. Many leading businesswomen have also come out against the plan, including Burberry CEO, Angela Ahrendts. (BBC, Guardian)

City ‘decades behind’ its clients over the issue of gay workers

The head of KPMG has admitted he is “dissatisfied” with the accountancy firm’s attitude towards gay employees and has suggested that the finance industry is decades behind its clients on the issue. Speaking at the British launch of the advocacy group ‘Out in the City’, Simon Collins, KPMG’s senior partner, bemoaned the fact that, even in confidential demographic surveys, only 33 percent of his 12,000 staff were willing to disclose their sexual orientation. Mr Collins joined senior executives from groups including Credit Suisse, HSBC, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and Barclays at the event. Research from the US, presented at the launch, showed that only 52 percent of gay and lesbian employees at big companies were ‘out’ at work. Lord Browne of Madingley, the former chief executive of BP, bemoaned the situation, citing his own experience of being the only openly gay boss in the FTSE 100 index. (Times*)


Corporate Reputation

Liberia watchdog reviewing $8bn of deals

A Liberian Government transparency watchdog is auditing more than $8bn worth of oil, mining, and agriculture contracts for possible fraud and mismanagement, officials said. The review by the Liberian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (LEITI) comes amid mounting pressure on President Sirleaf to clean up the sector after complaints about unfair and illegal deals. The audit is being conducted by UK firm Moores Stephens LLC and the results – which may guide a government decision on whether to revise the contracts – could be ready as soon as January. Liberia is one of the world’s poorest and least developed countries, and the Government is hoping a recent flood of foreign investment will help it rebuild after 14 years of civil war. Around $14bn worth of mining, forestry, agriculture and oil projects have been announced since the end of fighting in 2003. The review will cover some $8bn worth of those deals signed since 2009, when Liberia joined EITI, a global organisation that seeks to boost transparency in resource industries, particularly in poor nations. Contracts signed by the mining giant BHP, oil companies Chevron and Anadarko, and agricultural firm Golden Veroleum will be included in the audit, according to LEITI documents. (News 24)

Libor could hit banks’ credit ratings

Global banks could face downgrades to their credit ratings as a result of the Libor scandal, the ratings agency Moody’s warned on Tuesday. The warning came as it emerged that the US Department of Justice had been in touch with traders at the Royal Bank of Scotland. Moody’s said it was more concerned about the litigation risk posed by the on-going investigations into attempts to manipulate the benchmark rate than any fines that banks might face. Stephen Hester, the chief executive of RBS, last week said the bank was preparing to enter talks to settle regulators’ claims that traders were involved in Libor rigging. However, he was unable to say if the fine would be larger than the £290m handed down to Barclays in June by regulators in the UK and the US. The ongoing risks from the Libor cases were raised by Moody’s amid fresh signs that the US authorities were continuing their investigations. The UK’s Serious Fraud Office said last week that it expected “significant developments in the near future” in its own Libor investigation. (Guardian)



Anti-austerity strikes sweep Europe

Police and protesters clashed in Spain today, Wednesday, as millions of workers went on strike across Europe to protest against spending cuts they say have made the economic crisis worse. Hundreds of flights were cancelled, car factories and ports were at a standstill and trains barely ran in Spain and Portugal where unions held their first ever coordinated general strike. International rail services were disrupted by strikes in Belgium and workers in Greece, Italy and France planned work stoppages or demonstrations as part of a “European Day of Action and Solidarity”. More than 60 people were arrested in Spain and 34 injured, 18 of them security officials after scuffles at picket lines and damage to storefronts. International lenders and some economists say the programmes of tax hikes and spending cuts are necessary for putting public finances back on a healthy track after years of overspending. (Reuters, Financial Times*)



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