Tag Archives: PricewaterhouseCoopers

Matt Damon’s Quote

You could wonder what Matt Damon has been up to, there will always be reason to do this, not because he is an exceptional actor, even a celebrity on Mars. No, the reason here is his connection to documentaries. He was the narrator on ‘Inside Job‘, which got a well-deserved Oscar in 2011. I personally feel that this is the best documentary on the financial crises ever created. So let’s get started. Today, we see a number of news items reach the twilight of dawn.

The first one (at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/nov/08/panama-papers-22-people-face-tax-evasion-investigations-in-uk), gives us ‘Panama Papers: 22 people face tax evasion investigations in UK‘, with the added text “Philip Hammond also said a further 43 wealthy individuals were under review while their links to the offshore files were investigated further. He made the comments in a written answer to the House of Commons explaining what had happened since the offshore tax files emerged“. Now we might go all huffy and puffy on these tax evaders, yet when you consider the news from August (at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-08-31/ex-tesco-finance-chief-mcilwee-probe-closed-by-u-k-regulator), where we see “The U.K. accounting regulator closed an investigation into Tesco Plc’s former Chief Financial Officer, Laurie McIlwee, saying there wasn’t a “realistic prospect” that misconduct would be found in the case“, with the added “The Financial Reporting Council closed its case into McIlwee Wednesday, according to a statement from the regulator. It is still investigating the grocer’s auditor, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, and other individuals involved in Tesco’s accounts“.

This has been going on since 2014, they have not been able to find anything after two years and now you are going after ‘simple’ tax evaders?

My initial message (with all due respect) to the Chancellor of the Exchequer is “Mr Philip Hammond, are you out of your bloody mind?” You are still trying to get anything real on PwC, or were you ordered to let it die down?

When a company suddenly loses billions in value (also due to their own stupidity) and you cannot find anyone to prosecute and go to jail for overstating profits by £263 million ($345 million), whilst we also know that for that year PwC gave Tesco a 10 million pound invoice for auditing (annual) with an additional 3 million pounds for consultancy that year (Source: the Guardian). You cannot find anything and now you are going after people, where you cannot state whether they broke the law and you will rely on illegally obtained papers. How stupid is this?

How about you making the following change as per immediate!

a. Until the Tesco case has been satisfied, PwC and its senior employees cannot undersign any accountancy venue, or corporate balance for any UK corporation for 2016, 2017 and 2018 until the matter is solved.
b. In case wrongdoing by PwC employees is proven beyond reasonable doubt, PwC will not be allowed to operate within the UK.

How about them apples?

So far we have seen massive leeway by the press and the SFO has not achieved anything at all regarding Tesco. So it is time to adjust regulations and legal premises, until that point comes PwC will have to operate on non-British companies. Now, we can all understand that when we see the quote “McIlwee resigned as Tesco’s CFO in April 2014, prior to the discovery of the accounting errors, amid reports of disagreements with then-Chief Executive Officer Philip Clarke” seems to imply that McIlwee was not privy to, and not guilty of any wrongdoings, yet the fact that the SFO got nowhere in two years means that there is something massively wrong. When we know that so many millions were overstated, we seem to have a decently clear case of fraud, yet no one goes to jail. In addition, we also know that PwC was in on it (at least to some degree) and in addition, the subsequent Deloitte investigation showed more than initially was found means that there is no scenario where PwC can be absent from guilt in the first or second degree.

The SFO gave that Carl Rogberg, Christopher Bush and John Scouler were charged (source: BBC), they pleaded not guilty and at present the court dates are set for September 2017. It is my opinion that until all that is settled, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has no business whatsoever to dig into cases based on illegally obtained papers, whilst his branch as well as the SFO has no flipping ability at present to close a 2 year old case for at least another year (if ever). And as reported by the Times in September (at http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/tesco-auditor-slips-back-into-retailers-aisles-0gm9xt8md) that “Tesco has appointed PwC as an independent adviser, despite replacing it as auditor with Deloitte“, which gives my emotional and slightly inappropriate response “Are you fucking kidding me?

So, whilst the PwC issues were kept very low key by nearly all the press, whilst there is no condemnation on a daily basis by the press and even less success by the SFO, we should agree that PwC has no business being in the UK to begin with, especially as “Last week the FRC cleared Laurie McIlwee, Tesco’s former chief financial officer, of wrongdoing over the scandal, but added that its investigation into PwC and other unnamed individuals continued“, we could go by once bitten twice shy, or we could go by the fact that as the SFO is either unable or unwilling to prosecute PwC, why would we even consider their presence? In case some are considering a specific rebuttal, to them I would respond with the April article (at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/apr/14/brexit-could-lead-to-loss-of-100000-financial-services-jobs-report-warns), where they stated ‘PwC report estimates 70,000-100,000 fewer jobs in 2020 compared with estimated number if Britain stays in EU‘, so let’s start with theirs and let smaller accountancy firms continue and allow for growth. In addition, when we accept the news by the BBC in Feb 2015 (at http://www.bbc.com/news/business-31147276), where we see “We believe that PricewaterhouseCoopers’s activities represent nothing short of the promotion of tax avoidance on an industrial scale,” said Margaret Hodge, chairwoman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC)“, so in that light, we could just send PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) packing, giving light that the facilitator of tax evasion have been dismissed from the country and as such the UK will see a decline in Tax evasion, no need for illegally held papers, no long and expensive investigation and the thorn in the UK economies side is equally removed. It will not mean that tax evasion is a thing of the past, but if PwC is send packing now, the other three might do a 180 degree on that clientele, which would at that point make the tax evasion issue moot, or at least deprive it from many options, which would amount to the same in the end.

So, you like apples?

If I am accused from persecuting PwC, then I would plead that I am not entirely innocent in that regard. I would bring the defence that the SFO has not gotten anywhere in 2 years and they are supposed to have the ability to find those culprits. Yet, as John Crace pointed out in the Guardian on April 5th that “Only last year, the public accounts committee reported that the accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) was promoting tax avoidance on an industrial scale. To make things worse, it was first in the frame to benefit from administering the windup of Tata’s steel operations in the UK. So where was David Cameron? At PwC’s offices in Birmingham. Some might call it a brave choice“, in that light, there is an additional reason to give PwC their walking papers.

In all this the exchequer has one final issue to deal with, you see, accountant at large, including (read: especially) those at PwC are really clever with what they do, meaning that there could be no broken laws to begin with, making the actions from certain parties from 2014 until 2018 even more questionable, with a strong need to truly scrutinise the rules that accountancy firms applied and how they were applied. As I see it, there is nothing worse than to paint a lovely target on a person only to learn that the laws fell short and none were ever broken. If you question that, then consider the following two options.

  1. The SFO has, as it embraced corruption onto a new level decided not to dig into PwC on the levels needed to secure evidence for the prosecution regarding Tesco.
  2. The SFO has found that even as it is clear that PwC assisted in these levels of Fraud and Misreporting, yet when the books and memos were investigated for these transgressions, there was more than a reasonable doubt that PwC was not fully aware, in addition, there are no papers filed by PwC to implicate them in any way in fraud or misrepresentation. As well as the established fact that no laws were broken at present.

When you look at the two options, which one is more likely than not the situation regarding PwC?

In my book, the fact that a person is not guilty, does not mean that they are innocent. I remain of mind that shutting PwC down in the UK is not the worst idea at present, yet is that point of view valid when we consider premise 2, which is actually the most likely scenario? When we consider that the spirit of the law has been violated by PricewaterhouseCoopers, at that point we still have the issue that no literal laws were broken. Here we could set forth that the government (read: parliament) created the foundations and the setting where industrialised tax evasion and fraud became legalised options. Even as we saw that there was a clear case for fraud, the law has been altered to the degree that the facilitators cannot be held accountable, as such, an issue was created and until that is resolved, and PwC cannot be prosecuted (which is wrong in many ways from the point of a simple taxpaying labourer).

So, we now have the issue of the letter of the law versus the spirit of the law, which should be seen as grammatical opposites, not just in grammar, it is that they are also opposites of the soul (read: soul of the law). When one obeys the letter of the law but not the spirit, one is obeying the literal interpretation of the words (the “letter”) of the law, but not necessarily the intent of those who wrote the law. Which is what black letter lawyers (and accountants) tend to do, because a nation of laws is about a nation with rules of playing the game. In our case, in Common Law, until a case is set as a precedent in law, there will be no adjustment and this can go on ‘ad infinitum’ and Intentionally following the letter of the law but not the spirit may be accomplished through exploiting technicalities, loopholes, and ambiguous language (at times a mere comma does the trick too).

Yet, when one obeys the spirit of the law but not the letter, one is doing what the authors of the law intended, though not necessarily adhering to the literal wording, which could get them automatically prosecuted if the District Attorney woke up on a Monday morning with a really foul mood.

So, whilst we might agree with Margaret Hodge, stating “We believe that PricewaterhouseCoopers’s activities represent nothing short of the promotion of tax avoidance on an industrial scale“, the fact that they are not breaking the law, implies that no corrections to the law have been made to correct for this. As such, you only have yourself to blame and admittance of this failure to the public at large is an essential second step. As I see it, making a lot of noise going after people who might have done something like this, whilst papers are absent and whilst all parties know that this is because of illegally obtained papers from the law firm Mossack Fonseca is even less intelligent, as the people behind this have leaked these papers for their own personal interest and ‘late taxation’ was not their goal, so to adhere to the promotion of such crimes is not the best way to get results.

Now that we see claims rising towards Tesco for misrepresentation from their investors for the amount of £100 million, which comes on top of the diminished value, so I feel that no matter what, there should be a negative impact on PwC one way or another, yet within the confines of the law of course. This takes us to ‘The letter versus the spirit of the law: A lay perspective on culpability‘ by Stephen M. Garcia, Patricia Chen and Matthew T. Gordon (paper here). The part that gives us the cakes are found in study 5 on page 486. “Study 5 sought to examine another instance in which the letter of the law is not broken but the spirit of the law may have been violated“, which is where I for the most stand with PwC in the Tesco matter as stated “We also wanted to control for various counter-explanations that underlie culpability such as violations of social and moral norms“, with references to Bicchieri & Chavez, 2010 as well as Mazar, Amir, & Ariely, 2008. Yet in the first there is Tonry, 2010, where he argues that “the foundations for disparity causing policy choices lie in the cultural and social forces that combined historically to shape U.S. society“, which is interesting as this implies that the policymaker and not PwC is the actual culprit and my rage was misguided. Yet, is that actually true? The spirit of the law is not equipped, or better stated should not be equipped to manage the input of self-interest, because the spirit of the will assume the setting for all people and as such will force the text and derail the letter of the law (as I see it). Tonry goes on into the racial destabilising side, yet in my view the racial part is not the real instance, I believe that the division is that we see two groups One is the (white) social enabled group who is set to the game with preparation (read: legal advice) to break the spirit of the law and not the letter of the law as long as self-interests are served. This setting will at that same time destabilise the (black) group, a group that is suffocating on the lack and lapse of social options and opportunities, where without proper and affordable advice the letter and the spirit of the law will be adhered to, yet at a massive cost through loss of opportunity. This now makes PwC a facilitator for the wealthy to avoid breaking the letter of the law and to optionally, when unavoidable adhere to the spirit of the law. From one point, can the facilitator be held to account? I believe so, yet the area is slightly too grey for my comfort. It is the policymaker that requires to shift the grey area, so that breaking the law is a more clear setting and as such the SFO could actually create a situation where conviction (let alone prosecution) becomes a reality.

I still believe that PwC has done great wrongs, yet as far as we can establish, not in the letter of the law. I find them guilty of knowingly set the stage for managed ‘breaking’ of the law. The spirit is as much a factor as the letter, either should be seen as breaking the law. Yet there is diminishment as the policymaker is seemingly also guilty, yet the reasoning for that flaw can never be easily determined, so we can tell it was wrong, yet to what degree is not a given, but an essential issue to address. When we look at the policymakers, we need to ascertain the application that the paper discusses. “This framework broaches a new language to understand complex situations such as those that are not technically illegal but seem wrong“, we can see that this applies to multiple incidents. In those cases it needs to be clear that these levels of protection do not make the cake edible. It makes for a sour venue where those with legal advice can abort too many payments whilst the underprivileged groups end up without support, protection and options. I am speculating here that this is the (read: speculated intentional) creation of the haves and have not, which is a policy drip down effect when you implement a prismatic system, which policymakers from business and sociological fields seemed to have resorted to as they (tried to) implement laws, on the premise of a non-legal mind. Which is what is pushing the issues. The political field needed the business view of opportunity and the resulting laws are toothless against larger corporations who end up getting a free pass here with PwC as the facilitating office.

In the end I am more correct than even I thought I was, yet this should not digress from handing out the penalties that are needed to give a clear signal that the party is over. We have learned the hard way from 2004 onwards that unless we make a massive shift, this will continue a few more decades, as such stronger language and harsher penalties are required, because continuing on this path is far too rewarding for all the players that can afford to play this game, which gave me the idea to give PwC their marching orders out of the UK. I don’t believe it is too harsh, especially as they made 35 billion last year alone. So the question to you becomes, do you have any idea how much taxation they paid? I have no idea how much exactly, but we do know that PwC was elemental in avoiding Lehman Brothers to pay an addition £1.2 billion in taxation, due to inconsistencies, we see the quote by Mr Justice Hildyard: “It is of real importance, both in terms of good governance and a fair market, that HMRC should make every effort to ensure that this sort of thing does not happen again“, (at http://www.theweek.co.uk/lehman-brothers/77510/lehman-brothers-creditors-to-avoid-12bn-tax-bill) giving rise that larger changes are needed to bring back fairness to all tax paying people, who have not seen a whole lot of fairness in that regard these last 12 years.

Judges will soon have to science the shit out of these tax laws, making them actually fair to all, not just large corporations, who seem to be judged on ‘the Principle of least accountability’.

 

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A bit in the stream

Something alerted me towards events this morning in LinkedIn of all places. There was a reference towards an article titled ‘New Accenture boss Bob Easton throws down gauntlet to big four on digital’ (at http://www.afr.com/business/accounting/new-accenture-boss-bob-easton-lays-down-gauntlet-to-big-four-on-digital-20160829-gr3huj ).

The initial quote is “The trouble is there is a lot of people running around talking about digital“, which is true. Bob Easton is right that there is a lot of talk about digital. Yet, when we look at the definitions, I wonder how many have a true grasp of digital. Even I myself wonder when the use ‘digital’ is warranted. You see, when it is media, my photography is digital, so is my filming. Advertisement is digital as it goes through AdWords and not trough the newspapers. Here is the issue. When is something digital? Bob Easton states in the article “they are confusing the market by misunderstanding digital strategy and lacking the global capabilities of his firm“, the fact that IBM took a massive hit is not a surprise because they are confused on the best of times. They still present the 14 managers and 2 technicians approach. I cannot speak for either PricewaterhouseCoopers in this instance, or for EY, but my last encounter with Deloitte gave a much better view on them and they seem to know it (to some extent). So where does this leave Accenture?

The term “moving to aggressively compete for work in the consulting, digital and business transformation space” is only a concern if they do not meet customers’ expectations. So where should they be?

So where should you be? You see Dave Aron from Gartner (at that time) gives me: “A digital strategy is a form of strategic management and a business answer or response to a digital question, often best addressed as part of an overall business strategy“, what I liked was “Every business and public sector agency needs both an IT Strategy and a Digital Business Strategy. They must be highly aligned with each other, but they are not the same thing“, which gives part of the goods, yet when we consider his claim “All aspects of the business strategy should be informed by digital considerations“, we tend to get confused here, because different elements have the same word (read: digital), but in that the setting is not the same.

We can see it as advancements in digital technologies such as computers, data, telecommunications and Internet, which is still true, but how to go about it?

A digital media manager looks at how to get the solutions towards their ROI, which in many turns means to get it all electronically solved, whilst keeping costs to a minimum. Here we see the first failing from IBM as they are about revenue and about getting the business onto their solutions. Even in a step by step solution it is about getting one foot into the door and upsell from there. That is not a solution for the client, it is merely a solution for the sales person’s target.

And in some cases there is no digital path, but to a lot of people that does not exist so they will feign a solution. As an example I have my old dentist, he had a card system so perfect that no IT solution could bring the goods. I saw yuppies in all sizes try to sell him a solution between 1983 and 1995, one failure after another. The mere realisation that not all solutions fit and that some solutions will drive down the ROI in unacceptable ways is why several of these players will never succeed. Because what the client truly needs is never addressed. If we take the approach from Macala Wright (at http://mashable.com/2012/09/05/how-to-digital-strategy/#oc3qMBqfF8qC)

We see a decently clear path. I can quote all the steps again, but the article has them down to a nice clean size, so reading it is a recommendation.

I am downgrading it to these four steps for comfort (read: mine).

  1. Identifying the opportunities and challenges in a business where online assets can provide a solution or a difference.
  2. Identifying the unmet needs and goals of the external stakeholders that most closely align with those key business opportunities and challenges, and especially if there are threats there.
  3. Developing a vision around how the online assets will fulfil those business and external stakeholder needs, goals, opportunities, challenges and threats.
  4. Prioritizing a set of online initiatives which can deliver on this vision.

These steps also include the views Cisco had in step 3, yet it is a watered down list. I am emphasising this as the entire ‘going digital’ is larger and more complex than most realise. When I look at what can be done and what can be achieved we need to realise that this all needs the decision makers to be aligned and in that both IT and business needs must be addressed. Most people going digital seem that it is a cheaper solution towards a better ROI. Yes, it is a path towards a better ROI, which will not make it cheaper. It requires serious investments and not tinkering around with half a dozen people working from home, sending in some finished element. Whilst the Australian Financial Review gives us a chart with Revenue versus margin and adds a little hype by adding AirBnB and Uber in the new business models, we see a forgotten element. You see, these new business models come with a little hook, one was highlighted by Bell Partners, where we see “Some critics argue that Uber drivers are not subject to the same premiums for compulsory third-party (CTP) insurance as taxis, as it is harder to identify an Uber car in an accident“. Is that so? So how does this impact the passenger? Until you are in an accident you might not care, but when the hospital bills come and the Uber player does not have the coverage, you will soon learn that hospitals are very expensive.

There is a lot of truth in the article and it is well worth reading, yet the lack of threats discussed is equally unsettling. The fact that Expenses in the digital world are up and very much so with Accenture is an element, and also a threat. You see, we all understand that there are a lot more expenses coming over (nearly all tax deductable), the matter of a shifting ROI remains and until the model is used to fuel growth the benefit will not be easily seen. For this path requires a globalising mindset. If you want to remain the big cheese in Darlinghurst and that is all you want, you need to consider what sides need the digital approach and what you want to grow. This for the mere reason that costs will come in the early days and if you are ready it is not an issue, if not, your ROI went straight into the basement, good luck enjoying that view!

Depending on your market, it will be about your customers and their experience, if that is not upgraded, then why byte into the digital apple? I truly worry about the bit you do not end up with, as you would limit your position and enable your competitor overnight. This is the part that is not addressed in many places, because everyone is in a sales hat thinking bonus and saying, we can get you onto the digital path! You see, the presentation in the AFR, regarding the digital disruption framework is aptly drawn as a spear point and it points towards you! The better the comprehension and implementation, the more it becomes a weapon of offense instead of a solution to suicide. In that regard, towards the offense we see that the spear could be the stepping stone that upgrades the customer experience and as such truly grow your business, which is exactly what it is, but it is not a cheap solution or an overnight solution, it is merely a new solution to grow towards places you never grew before, so you grow the options in getting a grown customer base, which is what many want.

The only question is how correctly the path has been drawn out and here we see the elements that Bob Easton sells on. Accenture seems to know this path through and through. We have seen how IBM scuttled their knowledge and for the most, the other players (read: self-proclaimed players) are not up to scrap, but their level of failure is not clearly shown, Bob Easton points at it, but there is clear doubt if that is a given, especially in the case of Deloitte.

Finally we see the mention of government contracts, which is of course fun to read. Especially as 20 years have shown me that the bulk of government is relatively clueless on any digital path, with Defence on a whole being close to the sole exception.

In all this I find one part slightly debatable, even as the chart makes perfect sense. The quote “Digitising the experience for your customers, digitising your internal operations and the creation of the capabilities to recognise and exploit new business models” is true, yet recognising new business models is always a non-given, because that requires the altered mindset of a board of directors, which tends to focus on the golf game and less on the balls they slice, which gives weight to the debate, not the issue with the model as shown. In that for Taxi’s the model makes perfect sense, because Uber is now forcing a different mindset on the taxi corporations. Yet consider the year before Uber started, how many Taxi companies were actively looking into new business models? That list is hugely close to zero!

I say that competitors and threats, the second more than the first is driving that element, which is why even in the digital move, a SWOT analyses tends to have more decisive impact on the decisions. When we know the elements strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, we can start to look at the options we have, and they do include the two Bob Easton axis scales namely Revenue and Margin. As stated, his view is not incorrect, I personally find it a little incomplete in this instance.

And to finalise this, the problem he states is on many levels, I am not even sure if America is the largest waster of options and resources here, yet when we see politicians go with (read: Donald Trump on CBS today) “you know cyber is becoming so big today. It’s becoming something that a number of years ago, short number of years ago, wasn’t even a word. And now the cyber is so big“, in this case Donald Trump for his elections. The fact that Cyber threats have been on the FBI agenda even before October 6th 1999, stating that the damage from those threats had surpassed 7 billion in Q1 and Q2 of 1999 gives us worry that Cyber and Digital are more than words and those who are aiming to be in a seat of power have not grasped it. The entire educational system is not ready for these changes, which is not their fault. The market that Bob Easton described has grown nearly exponentially and the next generation is not aware of what is what, that whilst the current generation is not up to scrap as to what the definitions are, how they should be seen and how they apply in a real time environment and the people in charge are not getting educated either, most they get is from trade shows dying for you to buy their solution, which is not much of an education and finally the previous generation that is hoping to make it to retirement before they have to learn it all.

That is the issue as it evolves. So we are all bits in the stream, bits of what? I am not sure if anyone can tell at present, but good luck trying to figure out where you are placed and where you stand, because resolving that will place you in a much stronger position than you were in this morning.

 

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Is the truth out there?

That is the question that sprung to mind, when the article ‘Brexit could cost £100bn and nearly 1m jobs, CBI warns‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/mar/21/brexit-could-cost-100bn-and-nearly-1m-jobs-cbi-warns) crossed my screen an hour ago. Of course it then continues with the subtitle ‘Report conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers for the CBI‘, perhaps you remember that firm named PwC? The people behind the books kept for Tesco. The firm the press avoids like the plague (especially when digging into Tesco issues). A report for the CBI no less. When we look at wiki we get ‘Confederation of British Industry is a UK business organisation, which in total speaks for 190,000 businesses’, so basically, because businesses are afraid to export their articles, we get this level of scaremongering. And let’s be honest, when Lehman Brothers is not available, PwC is all that remains. The Wiki reference will be explained shortly.

The first paragraph states “Leaving the European Union would cause a serious shock to the UK economy that could lead to 950,000 job losses and leave the average household £3,700 worse off by 2020, a report commissioned by the CBI business lobby group has warned“, I personally consider this to be a blatant lie!

There is NO WAY that there is any clear data on this event. The reason is simple. This situation has never happened before so there are questions, that is a given, yet what they predict is that 2 times 100% of exports that the UK ships to the USA becomes lost revenue. This is just ludicrous. Leave it to the place that embellished 110 million in revenue for Tesco will be able to lose 1000 times that amount in goods and services for the CBI. I am merely speculating here. I wish I could give you more, but the press is very engaged into not confronting PricewaterhouseCoopers on their actions.

The second paragraph “an analysis conducted by accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers for the CBI said that Brexit could cost the UK economy £100bn – the equivalent of 5% of GDP – by 2020 and would cause long-lasting economic damage from which it would never recover“, let take a look at the parts PwC (as I see it) hides behind ‘could cost‘ meaning that it might, it is not a given. the second part ‘would cause‘, means that if they lose 100 billion then it would impact the economy, which we can all agree with, but that level of loss is NOT a given. Lastly there is ‘long-lasting economic damage from which it would never recover’, ‘would never’ is also not a given, consider that thanks to British Labour, who caused a massive part of the fourteen hundred billion in debt, on that part 100 billion will have an impact, the economy will recover, yet in all fairness, at what speed? We all agree that this massive extra level of debt is not a good thing, but it all began with ‘could cost‘ so it is not a given! The CBI, like frightened little sissies are trying to sway voters through fear. You see, if these businesses have an actual product to share, people will buy it.

They then continue to push more fear that people would lose between £175 and £300 a month. I would be shocked, we all would be shocked. Yet again there is ‘could be lower‘, meaning it is not a given. When I read “Carolyn Fairbairn, the CBI’s director general, said: “This analysis shows very clearly why leaving the European Union would be a real blow for living standards, jobs and growth“, my response would be ‘Carolyn Fairbairn, we know you are high and mighty with previous position at the  Competition and Markets Authority, Lloyds Banking Group and the UK Statistics Authority, so if you truly stand behind these analyses you will give us all (in open data) the raw data, the analyses and the conclusions with data connections‘.

I feel certain that we will see all kinds of weighting, forecasting and predictive modelling. As I see them, they will be utterly useless, for the mere reason I gave at the start of my blog “This situation has never happened before“, there will be turmoil, there will be a time of flux, but this forecast of utter blackness on non-given facts and shady forecasts is just completely out of bounds.

You see, I went to Wiki for a reason, when we go to their website we get a few issues (and initially their website was unreachable for about 15 minutes). The first one is from 15th of March (at http://news.cbi.org.uk/news/cbi-to-make-economic-case-to-remain-in-eu-after-reaffirming-strong-member-mandate/), here we get the quote “80% of CBI members think being in EU is best for their business – ComRes survey“, now, consider the following two elements, first is the ‘given’ fact on their site “CBI’s relationship with 190,000 businesses of all sizes across the UK“, now consider that survey where 80% wants to stay within had the following quote: “The survey had 773 responses among small, medium and large firms across the whole of the UK. It reveals 80% of CBI members, when weighted to reflect its membership – including 71% of small and mid-sized business members – believe that the UK remaining a member of the EU would be best for their business. Overall, 5% say it is in their firms’ best interests for the UK to leave the EU, with 15% unsure“, So out of 773 responses, 116 were not sure, so only 658 were certain one way or another, so the 80% comes from that group?

In addition, the fact that I, in 24 years have never seen ANY survey been answered for 100%, so how many answered it, how were the numbers given and how can any of the numbers have ANY level of reliability? That is even before we start looking into the questionnaires some people tend to make, which is often enough not that neutral to begin with.

All these thoughts took 45 seconds to form, after which I needed 30 minutes to look into some of the known givens whilst Graham Norton was playing in the background. The biggest fun I had was considering the part where the CBI is basically stating between the lines that “UK products are so shaite, that it can only be sold under EU membership“, is that not so Mrs Fairbairn? I believe that UK produce is high, high enough that there will always be a demand and high enough that people will go out of their way to get it. The gaming column last week that had a go at Brexit earlier was eager to ignore the fact that some of the better games developers are British, there is British Beef, British Lamb, the UK foundation in vegetables and fruits. The United Kingdom has always had a good stock and a proud tradition. I think that these traditional times can return the UK to better times.

That is also a speculation on my side. You see, this is the one time that the Telegraph has a fair point (yes, this rare occurrence happened on February 23rd 2016), There is the quote “The only appalling part is that we import so much poor quality foreign food at the expense of our own farmers“, I believe that there is a deeper truth. Obesity comes from junk food and from bad quality food. Yes, produce might rise a little in price, yet when you get the same quality ingredients from eating only 50% of the amount of junk goods you used to eat because it was cheaper, I believe that the overall health of the British population would also go up (read: lowering obesity). Mrs Fairbairn could have given that information too, you see the CBI site claimed to be connected to 190,000 businesses, so how many of them are farms?

This is no longer the age of Tesco (thanks to PwC to some extent), in addition, it stops being the place for Aldi and Lidl, it will slowly return to being the place of the neighbourhood grocery and butcher. I have nothing against Aldi and Lidl, yet their models do not run on the small local farms, their margins (low margins mind you) comes from bulk retail from big portion purchasers to deliver to all stores. It is a fair model, yet after Brexit there will be a change, their margins will fall, that is a reality, but if this opts for small business owners to rise from the ashes, the Brits in general will all win, we would see a need for jobs, not a loss of jobs. Again, this is speculative on my side, yet I do not go about scaring you readers like the CBI is doing through PricewaterhouseCoopers.

So, how about my own statement: “I personally consider this to be a blatant lie“?

As I see it, this report has issues, possibly a whole lot of them and if that is not the case, Carolyn Fairbairn would (read: should) have all the data ready for us all. When we see this level of incomplete information, giving rise to the possibility of misinformation the reference to ‘blatant lie’ is a fair given one, as I see it of course.

Now, mind you, the CBI page has the full report ready (at http://news.cbi.org.uk/news/leaving-eu-would-cause-a-serious-shock-to-uk-economy-new-pwc-analysis/leaving-the-eu-implications-for-the-uk-economy/), a 79 page document, so what does that give us and why was that not in the Guardian (as far as I could tell)?

We see the following under the key findings:

  • We have assessed the potential economic impacts of a UK exit from the EU under two possible scenarios
  • We estimate that total UK GDP in 2020 could be between around 3% and 5.5% lower under the FTA and WTO scenarios respectively than if the UK remains in the EU (interesting is how ‘we estimate that’ was not in bold)
  • The negative impact represents a reduction of around £55-100 billion in UK GDP, at 2015 values

And the final bullet point was “As with any economic modelling exercise, our estimates are subject to many uncertainties“, which is actually the core of it all, too many uncertainties, which gives additional weight to my statement.

Yet how were these numbers derived?

You see, when we see ‘Table 2.1: Exit scenario results – percentage difference in real UK GDP from levels in counterfactual scenario‘, we think we have something here, but on what core business is this founded? Is this on raw data sets? On aggregated data? You see, PwC have done all kinds of reports where they were overly optimistic, is the idea that they are intensely overly conservative on any of these numbers (by request of the CBI) and that the negative numbers are actually quite too negative? The fact that they are making predictions until 2030, whilst so far many firms resorting to analyses have been unable to make any decent prediction 3 years into the future, they ended to be overly optimistic again and again by more than one percent (try remembering Greece and Cyprus). Then there is: “A vote to leave the EU would create economic and political uncertainty that could last for several years while the UK Government negotiates the terms of its exit from the EU as well as new trade arrangements with non-EU countries“. Here is the kicker: the report did not once, I say again not once properly discuss the option of growing economies by promoting a growth interaction between Commonwealth nations. The UK stands not alone! Her siblings Australia, Canada, New Zealand, India et al, still need goods too. Whilst we see the ‘BS’ (Belonius Substance) from America regarding how the UK must stay within the EU, the UK can decide to collaborate with India on Generic medication. Now suddenly we get some individual in a white condo going on how friends should remain friends (that individual tends to be addressed as President of the United States), so here is one side of commerce that would ‘suddenly’ open doors for all kinds of trade.

The bibliography has a fair amount of theory references, and even though their existence, or their academic value is not in question, what is in question is the PDF we are looking at, especially when we see ‘Figure D.5: Working age population projections under the WTO and FTA scenarios and counterfactual‘, we see these numbers and graphs, but from what dataset? Where do we see any reference to the data population used, especially when we see a collection of graphs from various sources but with no clear reference to the numbers that these predictions are based on? In one example starting on page 47, we see ‘C.1 Economic context and key issues‘, with a reference to three graphs from two different suppliers. This gives me a few additional question marks (and it should leave you with even more questions). You see, if 80% wants to stay in Europe as stated by the CBI, whilst they had less than 800 responses, how does that hold any weight to the fact that they, on their own site state “the CBI’s relationship with 190,000 businesses of all sizes across the UK gives us a unique insight into what the result will mean for UK prosperity“, which means that 80% of the 0.4% of the businesses that decided to answer the call of the survey. I think I have raised enough questions for you the reader to be a lot less worried in this case!

Now, I am not stating that there will not be any issues, because the UK will face issues, but in equal measure the UK will stop making massive donations to a system that does not hold some of its members properly to account. It is like carrying buckets of water to the sea, an empty gesture that is a clear waste of time and money.

By the way, that report has a very interesting by-line which is shown at the very end (page 79): “This publication has been prepared for general guidance on matters of interest only, and does not constitute professional advice“, so if that is the moment of non-accountability than my final words are towards the writer of the article Julia Kollewe and especially her boss (or the boss of her boss, Katharine Viner): ‘How could you have been so stupid to go with this article. From my point of view, as a blogger tends to be a subjective one, it is a hack job, nothing more than mere anti Brexit material‘. As a newspaper you should have known a lot better! The fact that Julia writes “By taking a clear stance on Brexit, the CBI differs from the smaller business lobby group the British Chambers of Commerce, which is trying to be impartial. It recently suspended its director general, John Longworth, from his post after he suggested that Britain would be better off outside the EU“, yes, they might have done this, and they did it in what I regard a shady and shoddy way!

The article in the Guardian and the report leaves us with a few questions regarding Carolyn Fairbairn, the CBI as well as a few questions regarding the editorial of the Guardian. I hope that at the very least that part has been brought to the surface by me writing this article.

To all a lovely evening and whether you believe in Brexit or Bremain, make sure that you go towards the referendum properly informed!

 

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Medici decided to do Shakespear

All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances. This is what went through my mind when I saw ‘Phone hacking: CPS may bring corporate charges against Murdoch publisher‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/aug/28/phone-hacking-cps-may-bring-corporate-charges-rupert-murdoch-publisher) this morning. You see, the phone hacking scandal is not new, this started in 2011, and now, 4 years later the CPS decides to get a clue (or was that gives a toss?).  It matters not where they are at, the news as given seems to be the aftermath to the party someone seemed to have missed. The question becomes, who is the mad hatter? Is it the one giving the party? Perhaps that label is attached to a notion, a gimmick or even an organisation. It does not seem to be an individual. Let’s take a look at the story, you see, this is the fact of writing on the mad hatter “The Hatter explains to Alice that he and the March Hare are trapped in a never-ending tea party because, when he tried to sing for the Queen of Hearts at a celebration, she sentenced him to death for ‘murdering the time’. He escaped this fate, but Time, out of anger at his attempted to ‘murder’, has halted himself for the Hatter, keeping him and the March Hare at 6:00 pm forever“. If we paraphrase ‘murdering time’, we could get ‘wasting time’. But whose time was wasted? Is one of the players really a mad hatter? We no longer use Mercury in the fabrication of hats, but the issue remains, this article reads like it is something else entirely. I could go on with the March hare, but I think I am already getting through to you. The question becomes, who is Alice and why is she at this party?

There are two quotes, one following the other that gives way to my thoughts “The Metropolitan police handed over a file of evidence on News International – now renamed News UK – to the CPS for consideration after an investigation stretching back to 2011, when the News of the World was closed at the height of the scandal“, which gives us, why is the CPS only now taking a ‘better’ look? 4 years later, is that not odd? Then we get “We have received a full file of evidence for consideration of corporate liability charges relating to the Operation Weeting phone-hacking investigation”, which implies that the CPS and other players never looked at corporate liability charges the way it should have been looked at. This now gives us loads of questions and it should leave you with the question ‘What exactly was behind the looking glass?’ Who was looking, or better stated, who was NOT looking.

The quote “The CPS decision comes six months after the US department of justice told Murdoch’s company it would not face charges in the US” leaves the impression that the actions of the CPS have been in very bad taste, the rights of the people had been violated with impunity and only after the press at large felt the impending dangers that their time of abuse was over (due to the Levison report) did they dress up like debutantes, eager to take whatever was ‘thrusted’ into them to avoid losing ‘their’ power base. All the efforts in how they claimed that they would be worthy of self-administration, worthy to remain ‘unaccountable’. The ink had not even dried on the verdict when we got to read about the ‘suicide mission’ of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

Only now do we see that Murdoch’s company ‘could’ be prosecuted (that does not mean it will be successful) regarding corporate liability. I am not buying it. When we consider the subtitle ‘The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is set to interview former Tesco chief executive Philip Clarke as part of its criminal investigation into the supermarket chain‘ (at http://economia.icaew.com/news/august-2015/sfo-questions-former-tesco-ceo), whilst the news remains massively silence regarding linked party Pricewaterhouse Coopers, we have to start asking a few very serious questions. Yet, the article also tells us: “the Financial Reporting Council launched a probe into the roles of PwC and various members of the accountancy profession involved in the preparation, approval and audit of its accounts“, we should worry if any of this will go anywhere. The entire Tesco matter was a six billion plus pound drop on the economy. Not the smallest of events, yet no serious investigations, or if there is, the press is steering clear of all this, which is another oddity entirely.

Yet 10 days ago, we see “The FCA has dropped its probe into Quindell after the Serious Fraud Office launched a criminal investigation into the business and accounting practices at the insurance technology firm” with the added “In May Quindell announced that PricewaterhouseCoopers had completed an independent review of a number of its accounting policies”, as well as “PwC also identified that some policies were not appropriate. Quindell’s own review confirmed PwC’s findings“. Are the involved players playing footsie (the use of involved is intentional, this game had more than two players), or are we seeing the start of a new dance, one where in the end, no one goes to jail and no one loses anything, other than a few slapping of the wrists.

So how does this all links? Well, it doesn’t link, they are separate entities, but the given is that we are watching several plays where pretty much all the actors will get away with murder and as the cadavers on stage are real, the people go home reflecting on how realistic it all looked, not realising that we watched games with actual casualties.

Are we facing the beginning of a new Machiavellian play here?

The quote “A source familiar with the original investigation said there could be an element of politics in the transfer of the file. “My best guess is because nobody in the police has the bottle to draw the line under this, they have just passed the buck on the CPS” gives us something to ponder. The CPS website gives us this: “The statutory role of the Crown Prosecution Service is to advise the police in certain circumstances, and to conduct criminal prosecutions. The police provide evidence and information to enable the CPS to carry out these statutory functions“, which gives us the thought ‘if it is statutory, why was this not done sooner?‘ So why did this happen after such a long time, why was the CPS not chomping at the bits on day one that there was a clear issue with the news of the world? In my view, we need to consider that there are more elements in play. Political elements. It is merely a speculation from my side. I would think that cases like Rolf Harris and Jimmy Savile prosecution elements would have learned their lesson, but that does not seem to be the case and face it, this is about money, nothing sexual sexy about it, so the press does not seem to care.

The only question becomes is this truly about going after Murdoch, or is this about tying down resources so that they do not have to go after PricewaterhouseCoopers? My side on this is purely speculative, but consider the fact that the CPS has 8000 man and the fact that the SFO would be (read should be) looking at PwC, the fact that the press steers clear of it is weird to say the least. The Tesco mess will take a long time to unravel, the fact that it is kept away from everywhere is a matter of concern to all.

That is where we are at. So there was no typo at the start, we are watching certain people wield a spear, it is thrust at certain players who will most likely survive and it seems to be for the benefit of theatrics and ‘non-convictions’. Even now, as we see PwC named in linking to Quindell, the press steers clear form PwC regarding Tesco. So in all this, what is wrong with the picture we see, moreover, why is there ‘suddenly’ (implied it is sudden, it is not a given) an investigation 4 years later, one that seems to have been activated as the Americans pull away, which beckons the question why the CPS waited for the American parts in the first place.

 

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It is today!

We can boast, we can make all kinds of slogans. Like ‘Do you feel lucky, punk?’, ‘The writing’s on the Wall!’ or ‘If at first you do fail, whinge, whinge again!’

We can make all these boasts and claims when it comes to Greece, but there is symmetry in mine: ‘It is today!’

You see, in my previous blogs involving Greece, too many to just mention them all here, but Google ‘Lawlordtobe Greece’ and you’ll get a nice list! I stated clearly that Tsipras was out of his league. You cannot play the high stakes he did and not given in on several fields. Banks will not allow that, they were dealing with what they thought was an adult population (previous Greek governments) and ended up at the table with a petulant child (this Greek government). How did you think it would go over?

By the way, Greece lost a lot more than they bargained for, as the interest bill kept on going, as the bills were still due. Syriza and their approach of inaction has cost the Greek people already 11 billion in interest, an ongoing cost that would not be set still, so the 7.2 billion in bailout does not even cover the interest bill, let alone the additional costs that have matured. Tsipras and his gang played a game of solitaire, taking a day for every move, a game with 8 visible elements. Cost to the taxpayer 61.1 million Euro’s a day. Not to mention the flight and hotel and food and drinking costs. Just the interest alone, 61,111,111.11 a day!

Today Tsipras will realise what I have been telling all along. Certain players will not budge, he should have realised that when President Obama spoke on the need for actions and he was not kidding. Do I need to remind People on the IMF loan that did not go through for Argentina in 2001? It was said that the US was the strongest voice that stopped IMF bailing out Argentina and they were left with Vulture funds, which was 13 years ago, that issue is still playing today. So when President Obama gave his speech last week, the only option Alexis Tsipras had was to take the first flight back and seriously discuss actual options. He decided not to do that.

Now the IMF has walked away from the table. Like the SNS bank, Greece believed that they were ‘too big to fail’, which did not work for SNS and it will not work for Greece. We need to realise that Greece only represents 2% of the European Economy and the repercussions at present of default will be massive in Europe, because even though the results have been heavily downplayed, the impact of Greece will be felt, there is no doubt about that. Syriza did this to Greece, not the Germans and no one else, it is a Greek act of whatever they think it is.

So as the Guardian is not printing a picture of Tsipras laughing, or Tsipras pointing at his watch, this is Tsipras contemplating in deep worry, because the final bell is ringing and he is out of time. Perhaps he finally realises this, perhaps he is thinking of one more act before the Greek flag is lowered forever. Whatever he does, he better think of the people that elected him, because they are about to lose out on a lot more than even they bargained for.

So what can Greece do?

My first voice would be to re-elect New Democracy, because Syriza did not seem to have a clue what they were doing. Now that the US has had enough, they will have even less time and less options. In my view Greece needs to become a professional entity and needs to call in the professionals. It is my view that any act needs to show that ACTUAL work is being done. It will appease the creditors, the rating firms and the IMF, all in one deal. In my view (especially as they have many fences to mend), Greece should call on PricewaterhouseCoopers. Not just for advisory, but also for implementation, consultancy, education and taxation. In the view of all who matter and the view of many more, the statement from Greece that they can fix it, no longer holds value. In this way, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) gets to redeem themselves for an issue involving a grocery store or two and Greece gets a sweet deal on actually resolving issues. Greece can no longer continue in this way and that needs to be documented. Not for the world to know, because to some extent it is nobodies business, but to seriously call in the commercial auditing cavalry and sit down and actually do something about it is essential. The additional benefit is that if Greece would ever need to repackage anything, having PwC in your corner with all the data and evidence will go a long way, a degree of freedom Greece lost some time ago.

The second party in all this would be Natixis. Any actual movement from debt, any resetting of outstanding loans needs a group of people that has the ear of those who matter. Natixis is one of the ONLY non-US firms that has the ear of every G-20 nation, has strong ties with European governments and has access to possible financial solutions that Greece did not consider. If pensions are to be saved they need to look at those making actual money, Natixis is such a player. It is not the worst idea to rescale a government to be commercially viable, Greece now has to make the step no government has ever considered before. You see, in 300: Rise of an Empire we see an interesting quote in the beginning of the movie “All glory die, thousands died by the hundreds of them all for the idea. The Greeks free. An experiment called democracy of Athens. I wonder this idea is worth all the sacrifice

You might wonder why I grasp back on a movie quote, but consider “Aristotle argues that all forms of government have their problems, including, but not limited to democracy“, we all live in a democracy, an idea that came from Greece, would it be so far-fetched that it is Greece who takes an entirely different step, one that could propel them forwards? So many governments, all these nations that are set in methods by their own internal ‘experts’ (none of them able to hold a budget I might add), you see, the best experts are never in government, so why not call on the actual experts who might give view on solving this matter.

Greece might end up being the first to take such drastic steps, but it is 99% certain that this solution will take hold at some point and more governments will need to consider this point in the future and make that act, many of them will have economies substantially larger than Greece, even when we consider Greece when it was at the height of their economy.

We are all pushed into new directions, perhaps the road least travelled, will show the solution never pondered and a resolution is undertaken that changes everything.

This is just me having an idea!

 

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The Sound of silence

Hello accountant, my dark fate
your books are bloated as of late
the need for bonus loudly creeping
to be deposited so fleeting
and the greedy that are filling
their domain, they always gain
it is the need for money

The P W C accounting firm
will gain support, another turn
you see the press is staying quiet
we wonder now who got them hired
see the news is remaining just the same, it’s such a shame
and they should all be fired

You might think why this rewritten song of Simon and Garfunkel? You see, it has been almost 50 years exactly that Simon and Garfunkel took this to paper, 50 years later we would see quite the different ballad, one that would see repercussions in ways never seen before, yet both instances unique. That part was made clear today when we see ‘Tesco posts record loss: what the experts say‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/apr/22/tesco-posts-record-loss-what-the-experts-say). So when we see “Tesco reports record £6.4bn loss” and when we see ‘these experts’, you and me alike should ask a series of questions the press is not asking. It has not been asking them for 2 quarters now (well an absolute minimum).

Consider the following quote: “Soon after his arrival, Lewis unveiled a £263m accounting scandal caused by overoptimistic recording of payments made to Tesco by suppliers. Tesco is under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office and the supermarket regulator over the affair“, this is what got it all started, what the publishing pussies refer to as ‘overoptimistic recording of payments‘ turned out to be nothing less than a systematic issue as we saw some of the news from DeLoitte. It is shown in my ‘adjusted lyrics’:

Will gain support, another turn
you see the press is staying quiet
we wonder now who got them hired

You see, there is the Sound of Silence, an actual silence. Try finding anything regarding Tesco in 2015 regarding PricewaterhouseCoopers. You will find very very little, pretty much the absolute minimum. Perhaps you remember the wild allegations on the ‘MH370 suicide flight‘, in addition, all those claims regarding the World Cup soccer in Qatar 2022. Yet, in regards to PwC the Murdoch machine stays very quiet. I regard that this makes Rupert Murdoch the biggest pussy in newspaper publication since the newspaper concept started in the 17th century.

It took just less than two hours to realise that PwC needed investigation, the papers made close to zero mention on it, there were some casual mentions regarding ‘asking questions’, but it was as low key as technologically possible. In December 2014 it pretty much stops, feel free to try and Google it for yourself. You will find articles on how Sainsbury switches from PwC to Ernst and Young (January 16th 2015), but for the rest there is too much nothing. Not just the Murdoch groups, but in equal measure, you will find little to nothing regarding PricewaterhouseCoopers. Is that not strange? Especially as we now see how £263m inflation, caused a £6.4bn deflation. A result 24:1, it became such an interesting long term bet to make, especially by those involved. Yet many of those players are shrouded in silence.

You see another matter suddenly dawned on me. I reckon you all remember Julian Assange, from all those cables regarding the Afghan war. 5 days ago, they decided to also go public on all those Sony hacked cables. We see the quote: “This archive shows the inner workings of an influential multinational corporation. It is newsworthy and at the centre of a geopolitical conflict. It belongs in the public domain“. No Mr Assange! You decided to play god with stolen data and you decided the fate of this corporation by hanging out the laundry, in addition, you handed the power they wielded and threw it up in the air to be taken over by any competitor who can grow in directions they never bothered to look, because they could not be bothered taking the effort.

And as we are talking into the public domain Julian, what happened to your ‘bravery’ when you made the quote “In November, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told Forbes the site has a ‘mega leak’ on an unnamed major US bank exposing an ‘ecosystem of corruption’ that will be released early this year?” I am pretty sure that this never went public. I searched high and low and your WikiLeaks page shows nothing there either. It seems to me that many parties are too scared when it comes to banks and financial institutions.

The question should be Did Julian Assange have anything ever regarding his claims on an ‘ecosystem of corruption’ in regards to a US bank. Should I not ask that question? You see, when the press at large ignores the PwC issue, many should ask questions, especially as both Tesco and Greece fill pages of text in the Guardian and several other newspapers, yet the hunt for information regarding PwC is not moving forward.

In the first article mentioned, where we see the dubious term ‘what the experts say’, NO MENTION AT ALL on PricewaterhouseCoopers (or PwC), is that not strange? The question how 10 million in costs (which I converted to 199 full time accountants working on Tesco for a full year alone) did not reveal anything in time, so how could such a managed event stay hidden? In several articles we see a similar quote as I am adding here, a quote that in many cases was the very first paragraph of articles late October 2013. “DELOITTE has completed its review of Tesco’s overstated half-yearly results and confirmed that its black hole is even bigger than the £250m previously declared and goes back even further than the supermarket group had originally stated“, which means that these auditors ‘missed’ it for a longer period of time. A thought I had in the first few hours, was confirmed a month later (which is fair enough, they hard to check many numbers before stating anything), yet I saw and reported on this (as well as my thoughts), having no economic degree, just me as an analyst saw what the press has been ignoring ever since.

One of the more revealing articles was in the Financial Times named ‘UK accountancy watchdog hits PwC with two separate probes‘ (at http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/98e02452-89c8-11e4-9dbf-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3Y3cymr54), which was in late December 2014, after that the news and the hunt for the Priced and watered Coopers stops on nearly all media fronts. I wonder how they pulled that one of. The fact that there is almost no visibility on the two probes is only more cause for concern, but those experts all have ‘something’ to say in this matter. Isn’t it nice that they did not have anything to say, or did not say it out loud before the calamity was seen. All those Tesco projects, ready to roll, not one came with the considerations ‘Tesco is spreading itself too thin‘, which is nice before the fact, but pointless, bordering on clueless after the fact. I especially liked the quote from Mike Dennis from Cantor Fitzgerald, you know, one of those after the facts proclaimers. “We believe Tesco should consider closing 200 underperforming supermarkets/superstores and focus on growing the more profitable remaining 700 stores (excluding Express); in addition, this should also allow for £40m of cost-savings from the closure of a distribution centre“, you see, my issue is twofold.

The first is where the ‘under’ performing line lies. Is underperforming, working at a loss, or at a minimal profit? The reality remains that people need groceries, so if an ‘underperforming’ shop is closed another will open with a different label and now that lost revenue will go somewhere else. My second issue is that 40 million in savings. You see, if those 200 shops are spread all over, that distribution centre will still be needed, even if the amount of stores decreases, someone will need to open a grocery store and this distribution centre could service independent supermarkets to some degree, meaning a small additional revenue. Then we get the second set of debatable solutions “Matt Davies, Tesco’s UK CEO as of 1 June, should consider a further reduction in staff and a significant simplification of central functions and category management. Aldi UK today generates twice the sales per full-time employee compared to Tesco UK and is expected to report higher trading profits“, reduction on staff? Where? You see, it is nice to ‘opt’ for simplification, but in my experience in 100% of the cases, simplification was not a bad thing, but it came at some expense, what is that expense and will it hurt down the line? The biggest fun can be seen when you read the part of Philip Benton. It all reads nice, but the issue I have is at the end in this case. “The retailer is in the midst of a huge restructuring after selling off much of its portfolio including Blinkbox and Tesco Broadband as well as the forthcoming sale of market research unit Dunnhumby and undergoing a complete overhaul of its leadership“, my issue is the possible ‘inflated’ that Dunnhumby represents. You see, it could be regarded as inflated as its value is determined by what the buyers will offer. In the end Dunnhumby represents well over 140 million a year and it also represents undocumented savings. You see, if a lot of the marketing and visibility research is done at market value, Tesco will face that they either deal with additional costs (not small ones) or not do the research. Both are bad ideas. None of these ‘experts’ are looking into the amalgamation of services that Dunnhumby could offer via Tesco and/or for Tesco. Dunnhumby is a massive data warehouse and it should have loads of options. Moreover offering these additional services (in the trend that Google has done with ‘Gmail for work’ could open up new capital gaining opportunities. Now, as the economy is slowly starting over the next 3 years, those who grow could need data insight that is currently available via Dunnhumby. This means financial and revenue growth that shows a healthy future, giving that away in some sale to recoup 2 billion, from a 6 billion loss that was all based upon degraded value seems like a very bad idea to me. Even if most of that 2 billion is recovered, the invoices that follow will put pressure for a larger part on Tesco.

Consider that the interest on 2 billion is 70,000,000, now consider that not only are them making 100 million plus, they are also the centre of data, a place Tesco will desperately need in the coming 2-5 years. Not having it could imply more costings for Tesco. No one seemed to be considering that part of the equation at all.

So, reality now, will stores be closed? That seems unavoidable, yet closing stores also means no more revenue, dumping the location at a loss and a few other items linked to this. Tesco needs to grow again, but the method remains debatable. I would have thought that moving more towards an Aldi/Lidl margin might make a difference, will it be enough? Whatever move it will make, it will need data to support and test the foundations with, so I personally feel that this requires the non-sale of Dunnhumby (for now). You see, I still see the centre with Dunnhumby for another reason. When you look at their site, you see a list of the large corporations, that is all good (and it brings home the bacon), but they are also sitting on loads of Tesco data as well. What if aggregated parts could be linked to small firms, smaller firms who end up with a dashboard solution, where their limited data is linked to that massive Tesco Data Warehouse, where these smaller companies, for a small fee get a dashboard uniting their data with Tesco demographics. Now we have a whole new clientele in a business setting, so before those supermarkets get closed, they should see if a small corner of it could be an added business venture. Likely those prospective clients will be in larger area’s where Tesco remains operational, but we now have an added service and Dunnhumby has an optional new suite (based on for example SAP dashboard) that opens up new ventures and even added consultancy and training. In these times the innovators will cause growth to evolve, selling off things only makes for lost market share (even though some non-profit ventures should always be considered for scrapping).

Are my ideas so outlandish? You must always consider that part, for the simple reason that the sceptical approach causes no harm and the proof that follows will only create futures. The following quote is as old as the hills, so it should not be a surprise to anyone in this field: “Sales will blame Marketing for the lack of quality leads with repetitive precision, whilst Marketing will blame Sales for not acting on the leads on time, or at all. When nobody has any reliable stats to back up their ‘verdict’, the arguments go on forever and nothing gets done”. Now, consider all these new firms, those new start-ups, or just one man companies like for example Electricians, Plumbers and Painters. They have no Sales or Marketing at all in most cases, would it not be nice if they had a simple dashboard based option that can help them focus on where possible opportunities lie? Not to mention usual retail like family bookshops and leagues of small pharmacy places that could do better. The solution I suggested could help them focus on where to look next. The great thing is that for the most, the same basic solution will work for all, they would only need a set of very specific filters in addition to the demographical ones. A solution that could be automated to the larger extent. One simple market, there for the taking. Did anyone consider that?

And as we look into these possibilities, we get back to the beginning, how could all the financial data be so opaque that it escaped the view of PwC, when we look at all these claims by experts, how did none of the warning lights light up, especially when we consider the words of Deloitte “these auditors ‘missed’ it for a longer period of time“, now I have brought you from the premise, past the innuendo to the basic view on how data can be new business too. Finally, when we consider the following quote that was in the Guardian “Further positives include that Tesco did in fact make a bigger trading profit than the market believed was possible (£1.4bn v. £760.86m consensus)“, this reads, they did twice as good, this means that Tesco is getting back on its feet. Yes, I did read that it is less than it was, but still, they got one dot four billion in, which is a lot better than Greece and most traders want them to get 7 billion regardless, so I think we should consider that many are willing to dump 7 billion on a location of non-cooperation, whilst they will drown a corporation fight to achieve and collect ACTUAL revenue. What a double standard we live by!

If we go by the simplest stats (not an accurate one), then we see that Tesco exceeded by £700M, which is 23% of the £3 billion loss, Greece cannot even raise 10% of what is due shortly, so it is time to look at what is real and look at why the press seems to be ‘avoiding’ (read not actively digging) into Pricewaterhouse Cooper either. But I will leave that to what I would currently regard to be the ‘Pussy’ family (Witherow, Rusbridger, Murdoch et al). Should you consider the path I walked here to be ‘inappropriate’ then Google ‘Tesco+scandal+2015‘ (837.000) and Google ‘PwC+scandal+2015‘ (271.000), now look at the amount of Newspaper links we find in the second one (almost none and many of these links are 2014). I think I made my case here, I just wonder what scared the press to this extent away from a story.

So as we see the quotes “Over the full year, the profit margin in the UK was 1.1%, a far cry from the impossible 5.2% that Lewis’s predecessor, Philip Clarke, ridiculously attempted to defend” and “Lewis must show that the ‘early encouraging signs from what we have done so far’ will produce a discernible improvement in profits“, yet no mention on the previous directors, regarding ‘cooking’ the books and still no mention of the Auditor either. It seems that everyone knows that the dice are loaded but no one is willing to say it out loud.

What else is not reported on regarding the 24:1 loss?

 

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