Chris Mercer

Prejudice or prudence over Tsingtao?

By: Chris Mercer - 21 January 2011 16:44

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Tsingtao is throwing out its foreign auditors, who obviously know best, and is replacing them with ones based in mainland China. Inevitably, then, the brewer's results will not be trustworthy from here on in.

This has been the gist of much media chatter over the past week, following news that Tsingtao would use a local branch of PricewaterhouseCoopers in China to audit its results - instead of auditors based in Hong Kong.

Some of the reaction to Tsingtao is, at best, patronising and, at worst, prejudiced. China's quite new to all this finance stuff, isn't it?

While I understand that there are legitimate concerns about transparency in China on a range of issues, this doesn't mean that we should assume Tsingtao is going to get straight down to fiddling the books at the first opportunity.

Thank goodness for "prominent shareholder activist" David Webb, who became the voice of reason in one AFP report. "I don't think they're going to let just any firm do this work," he said, observing that China, on balance, probably doesn't want its own version of Enron, thank you very much. "They don't want a huge embarrassment on their hands," said Webb.

No, and I bet Japan's Asahi Breweries could do without it, as well.

 

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