Exclusive: Cable Backs City Reporting Overhaul

Mark Kleinman, City Editor
Exclusive: Cable Backs City Reporting Overhaul

Vince Cable will pledge tomorrow to overhaul Britain's "flawed" financial markets by ending mandatory quarterly reporting for public companies.

I have learned that the Business Secretary is to throw his weight behind moves to persuade European counterparts that the requirement to produce detailed stock market announcements every three months is promoting an unduly short-term focus among investors, public companies and advisers such as investment banks.

In a speech tomorrow morning, Mr Cable will set out the Government’s response to a report he commissioned earlier this year which called for far-reaching reforms to the City

The move to end mandatory quarterly reporting is likely to be among the most eye-catching elements of tomorrow's announcement as Mr Cable attempts to dovetail a long-term economic focus with the industrial strategy for Britain outlined earlier in the autumn.

The review was written earlier this year by Professor John Kay, an investment expert. He was asked to do so in response to concerns that the City's culture is weighted towards incentivising the intermediaries whose earnings are predicated upon short-term market movements rather than creating long-term value for savers and pensioners.

Mr Cable's support for amendments to the EU Transparency Directive to end quarterly reporting would be implemented by the new Financial Conduct Authority and subject to consultation.

Many listed companies are likely to welcome the proposal, saying that it will reduce the regulatory burden placed upon them and allow them to focus on longer-term efforts to boost share prices.

But some will argue that relieving companies of their obligation to update investors on their performance so frequently could encourage indiscipline and greater risk-taking among bosses.

I also understand that Mr Cable will back calls for a new investors' forum aimed at promoting more effective dialogue between companies and their investors following a year of bloody rows which have seen bosses at companies including Aviva and Trinity Mirror forced out over lavish pay deals.

The forum would encourage collective action by investors, which ministers hope would help the City overturn perceptions that it was an "absentee landlord" (an accusation levelled by Lord Myners, the former City minister) in the years preceding the financial crisis.

In July, Mr Cable described the Kay review as "an insightful and powerful review which describes vividly flaws of the UK's financial markets and their relationships with investors and businesses".

Mr Cable, who will also deliver a speech tomorrow to the National Association of Pension Funds about responsible capitalism, is expected to endorse a number of Professor Kay’s other recommendations.

Insiders say that he will address the argument that market intermediaries must act in the fiduciary interests of their clients in line with Professor Kay's report.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills declined to comment.