ASE-listed firms given IAS notice

Firms listed on the Athens bourse will have to adopt international accounting standards (IAS) beginning next year, the Finance Ministry said yesterday. With the European Union planning to abandon national rules in favor of IAS in 2005, Greece will implement the change one year earlier. The move, which aims to improve the quality of reporting by public companies and guard against scandals like those of Ahold, will enhance transparency and comparability and benefit Greece’s capital market, the ministry said. It said Greek companies should start preparing for the change, which will affect fiscal year 2004 reporting. Last July EU finance ministers (Ecofin) started discussions with the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) on modification of rules affecting how financial institutions account for interest rate derivatives after consultation with banks. European banks had lobbied for changes to the draft rules – which require the derivatives to be shown at market value – fearing a new accounting method could raise costs and increase the volatility of earnings and balance sheets. The ministry said the modification is expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2004, with the IASB then adopting its definitive version of international accounting standards to be applied. In another move, Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis set up an accounting standardization and auditing commission (ELTE) mandated to check the work of auditors. (Reuters)

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