March 15, 2006

The AIM Market in Play

Those following the tussle for control of the London Stock Exchange know that one of the reasons why the LSE is so attractive is that many of the IPOs during the past year have chosen to list there rather than on the Nasdaq or the NYSE (read Sarbanes-Oxley). In fact, I had announced this upcoming webcast – “How to Go Public on the London Stock Exchange’s AIM” – a few weeks back, before Nasdaq made its recent offer for the LSE (which clearly is still alive as Nasdaq reportedly is meeting with LSE’s largest shareholders).

In a somewhat related note, the newly-public NYSE Group filed this Form S-1 yesterday in an effort to remove a barrier to it making its own offer for the LSE. This registration statement will allow current shareholders (ie. former seat holders) to liquidate some of their new-found wealth (and lists Nasdaq’s LSE bid in the “Risk Factors” as well as discloses the pay levels of top NYSE executives).

And yesterday, the SEC and its UK counterpart, the Financial Services Authority, agreed to cooperate more closely in what they called a “landmark cooperation regulatory agreement” – these regulators also said they have discussed a possible deal marrying the London Stock Exchange with a top US exchange.

The Latest on Attorney-Client Privilege Waivers

Last week, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on attorney-client privilege waivers, primarily as part of a campaign spearheaded by a number of major big business groups (including the American Chemistry Council, Business Roundtable, Financial Services Roundtable, National Defense Industrial Association and U.S. Chamber of Commerce).

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) are coordinating this attack on the “culture of waiver,” collaborating on their main piece of evidence – which is a survey of NACDL’s 13,000 members and ACC’s 15,000 members.

Here’s information relating to the first hearing; the second hearing was postponed for now. This story in the Corporate Crime Reporter does a good job of summarizing this development.

And don’t forget you have only until March 28th to submit comments on the US Sentencing Commission’s Sentencing Guidelines Commentary on Waiver of Attorney-Client Privilege and Work Product.

AICPA Issues Proposed Statement on Auditor Communications

Last week, the AICPA published this proposed Statement of Auditing Standards: The Auditor’s Communication With Those Charged With Governance. The proposed statement would replace SAS No. 61 and would establish standards for auditor/audit committee communications. Comments must be submitted by May 31st. Since the PCAOB lists this topic among its priorities for this year, I’m not sure why the AICPA is also tackling it…