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Yearly Archives: 2015

Shareholder activism in Africa

Let’s coin another phrase: governance activism. If we all accept for the moment that governance refers to ‘conduct of life or business; mode of living, behaviour and demeanour’ and even the less-used ‘discreet or virtuous behaviour; wise self-command’ from the full Oxford English Dictionary 2004 (meanings 4a and 4b), then my focus is truly about getting the governance of modern businesses to be sound. Sound in the sense that they really consider the interests of all stakeholders and that they play fair. In my opinion, sound governance drives environmental and social issues.

A New Era in Audit Committee Reporting

At the turn of this century, a new era began for public company auditors and audit committees. Marked by emerging pressures and ongoing change, this new era continues to take shape. As never before, policymakers are focused intently on the financial statement audit with implications for stakeholders across the financial reporting supply chain. Investors also show increasing interest in how the audit works and how it is overseen. Auditors and audit committees have responded to these developments in numerous ways, but two important themes stand out: collaboration and communication.

The Activist Powerplay in Europe

Although the stereotype of a shareholder activist also remains a uniquely North American character, increasingly it is European, locally based activists that are now making the headlines. Shareholder activism is certainly not new to this continent, but recent years have seen an influx of techniques that have typically previously been associated with American groups. Most strikingly, once they have established their targets and set a goal, activists are including stages in their campaigns in which they make themselves and their campaign as conspicuous as possible. This includes employing PR agencies, issuing white papers, creating microsites and working with journalists in order to ramp up pressure on management from every angle through the resulting media intensity.

Brazil’s focus on transparency

Brazil enacted the Clean Companies Act (Law No. 12846/13) in August 2013, a law that addressed a significant shortcoming in the country’s anti-bribery system. It established, for the first time, the liability of entities for corrupt acts. Because of controversies related to the applicability of criminal responsibility in such cases, Brazil adopted the practical approach of imposing administrative and civil sanctions on offending companies instead. The statute has been in full effect since January 2014 and its rules were further detailed in March 2015 through a presidential decree issued to facilitate enforcement (Decree No. 8.420/15).

The Hillary Clinton email scandal: An eDiscovery lawyer’s perspective

Criticism of Hillary Clinton is a popular American pastime. It comes with the turf of being a political figure in the US, especially one running for President. Some of the criticisms may be well-founded but not the attacks based on Hillary’s use of her own email server. If you were a new high-ranking government official and were given the insecure, outdated piece of junk the government now provides as an email system and could afford it, you would use your own, too. Her refusal to use State Department email servers is perfectly understandable.

Dawn of a New Era in Corporate Governance

Today, nearly 20 years after the precepts of good corporate governance were first introduced to the newly-formed market economies of Europe and Central Asia, there is more widespread acceptance of the importance of strong governance standards in improving firm performance, attracting and retaining investment and expanding the economic base. There is also growing demand for corporate governance consulting services and increased willingness on the part of companies to pay market rates for such services as part of a suite of business consulting offerings.
video

From Behind the Bribe, The Sharp End of Compliance

A short film on Richard Bistrong's journey through the dark side of international business, "getting caught" and what that might mean for today's compliance challenges.

Engagement: Opportunities to restore trust

Corporations create wealth for shareholders and a corporation’s ability to return long-term shareholder value is a key metric for assessing whether the corporation is effective in its activities. However, corporate contributions to our economic and societal wellbeing extend well beyond shareholder return. By spreading investment risk, corporations facilitate the funding of large-scale entrepreneurial activities that enhance the quality of our lives. They deploy assets and support innovation to produce needed goods and services, provide employment and associated benefits, pay taxes and support social and charitable programmes.

Building a coherent cyber risk strategy

With every passing headline, we learn of another company or organisation being hacked. As Sony rebuilds its network and State Department officials testify to the Senate about their email breach, CareFirst disclosed a data breach and Penn State University’s College of Engineering disconnected itself from the internet after discovering ‘incredibly serious’ intrusions.

What knowledge and skills do directors need?

This article provides an overview of the risk oversight knowledge and skills required to equip directors to better drive value creation, prevent significant corporate value erosion and, perhaps most importantly, help directors protect their personal reputations as guardians of stakeholder interests. When considering what new knowledge and skills a person needs it is generally accepted in the education and learning community that it makes sense to start with what are called ‘learning outcomes’ or, more simply stated ‘what levels of knowledge, skills and abilities does a person need to do their job better?’.

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