Tuesday, November 27, 2012

500 Foreign Firms Still use U.S. GAAP U.S. Regulatory Filings

Good article by Emily Chasan of the WSJ.

The Big Number: 500

That’s the approximate number of foreign firms that use U.S. accounting standards in U.S. regulatory filings.

Some foreign companies that file financial reports with U.S. securities regulators are having trouble freeing themselves from U.S. accounting standards.

Five years ago the Securities and Exchange Commission voted to let U.S.-listed foreign companies that use International Financial Reporting Standards stop having to reconcile their financial statements with U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. But about 500 companies, or roughly half of the 1,000 foreign companies listed on a U.S. exchange, still submit their filings using the U.S. standards.

Some companies still must reconcile their home country’s accounting rules with U.S. GAAP, “but that number is shrinking in favor of companies that switch” to IFRS, Craig Olinger, deputy chief accountant in the SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance, said recently at a Financial Executives International conference.

More than 100 countries currently use IFRS. European companies, which have been using those standards since 2005, are the largest group using international rules for U.S. filings. Canada, which accounts for the biggest number of foreign SEC-registered companies, should soon have more companies using international rules for their U.S. filings after switching to IFRS last year. Some of the 340 Canadian companies that file with the SEC still reconcile their results to U.S. GAAP, Mr. Olinger said.

U.S. regulators still haven’t decided whether U.S. companies should be able to report using IFRS, and the successor to SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro will play a large role in that discussion. A widely anticipated study by the SEC’s staff earlier this year didn’t make any formal recommendations on the matter. Mr. Olinger said the SEC staff stays up to speed on trends in IFRS and performs reviews of filings in international standards at the same level that it inspects those done in U.S. GAAP

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