Europe divided over US-style corporate governance
European finance professionals are reluctant to follow the lead of the U.S.’s Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
Only 48% of Western European respondents to a survey carried out by gtnews.com in December 2003 agreed that other jurisdictions should adopt similar regulations to Sarbanes-Oxley. A total of 59% of global respondents agreed that Sarbanes-Oxley-style regulations should be implemented in non-U.S. jurisdictions (North America 67%; Asia-Pacific 57%).
Respondents also welcomed corporate governance initiatives such as Sarbanes-Oxley as having a positive impact on best practice in the treasury department, but were less confident that such measures would be sufficient to restore investor confidence.
Almost eight in 10 (79%) respondents agreed that corporate governance initiatives would benefit treasury best practice. But only 43% expected Sarbanes-Oxley to restore confidence in U.S.-listed firms, including 44% of North American respondents. Although a higher percentage of ROW (57%) / Asia-Pacific (57%) respondents asserted that SOX would restore investor confidence, the majority of treasury and finance professionals appear to believe that additional measures, such as structural changes at board level, are also required.
“This appears to be a cautious ‘thumbs-up’ for Sarbanes-Oxley and for corporate governance initiatives in general. Although European scepticism is out of step with treasury and finance professionals elsewhere, it may reflect the problems they have faced in implementing IAS 39, the international accounting standard version of FAS 133, the U.S.