Former Tesco senior accountant Amit Soni testified in a London court this month against three former senior executives accused of fraud and false accounting in 2014, when the British retail giant overstated its profit forecast by approximately £250 million. According to Soni, the retailer was facing intense pressure from competition and was underperforming against targets. Soni warned the three defendants, who have denied the charges, about the growing hole in Tesco’s accounts, which could have reached £600 million by the end of 2014. Management had instructed accounting teams to “pull forward” future income from suppliers by booking it in advance, according to U.K. media reports.
Angry Birds maker valued at US$1 billion in IPO
Rovio Entertainment, the Finnish company behind the popular Angry Birds mobile game, film and merchandise, was valued at approximately US$1 billion prior to it going public. According to Rovio, the initial public offering would help the company develop its growth strategy, and strengthen its brand awareness and recognition. The company began trading in late September on NASDAQ Helsinki. Shares were initially priced at €11.50 each, compared with the initial range of €10.25-11.50, the company said in a statement. Angry Birds, which was launched in 2009, features a flock of colourful birds trying to take down an array of antagonistic green pigs.
Finance sector embraces co-working spaces
Deloitte, HSBC, and insurance companies Manulife and FWD are among the latest companies to adopt shared working spaces in a bid to gain innovative ideas, reported the South China Morning Post this month. Compared with the inflexibility of traditional office leases and their often expensive renovation costs, “co-working spaces come up as a great alternative for companies that want to test new business lines to catch up with the trends,” John Siu, Managing Director and Head of Office at property agency Cushman & Wakefield, told the paper. WeWork, the world’s largest provider of shared work spaces, recently secured Deloitte’s Asia Pacific Blockchain Lab as a tenant in its Hong Kong co-working space.
Tax cuts top Hong Kong policy address
Chief Executive Carrie Lam delivered her maiden policy address on 11 October, announcing a two-tier profits tax system as promised during her CE election campaign. The tax system aims to lower the tax burden on Hong Kong’s businesses. In addition, a super tax deduction for qualifying research and development expenditure will be granted to boost the development of innovation and technology in the city. “These new tax measures should be welcomed by taxpayers, and with proper legislation and implementation details, they can serve their intended policy objectives and bring real benefits to businesses in Hong Kong” said PwC Hong Kong’s Tax Partner, Agnes Wong. ◆