The holidays are over and we’re all back at our desks having resolved to do less booze and more gym but what does the new year have in store?
Spring 2014: Remuneration policies to be approved
A quoted company with a typical 31 December year end will need to seek shareholder approval for a remuneration policy at its 2014 AGM. For the first time, shareholders will be given a binding vote on the company’s remuneration policy and from 1 January 2015 (ie. the start of the company’s second financial year beginning after 1 October 2013) any remuneration or loss of office payment made by such a company which is inconsistent with its approved remuneration policy will be unlawful.
1 April 2014: Bye bye CC and OFT, hello CMA
The Competition Commission (CC) and the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) will be replaced by the shiny new Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which will largely perform the same roles but under a new name. So from 1 April the CMA will have the power to investigate transactions (regardless of whether the transaction has been notified to it) and parties wishing to obtain clearance for a proposed merger will need to apply to the CMA. At the same time, amendments are being made to the UK competition regime in order to strengthen its effectiveness, with the CMA having greater powers to make ‘hold separate’ orders before clearance is given and to reverse integration which has already taken place.
1 April 2014: corporation tax reduction
The main rate of corporation tax (which applies to companies with annual profits over £1.5m) falls from 23% to 21% from 1 April 2014. And looking even further ahead, it will come down to 20% from 1 April 2015. The small profits rate remains at 20%, meaning that from 1 April 2015 there will be a single unified rate for corporation tax.
28 April 2014: no stamp duty for AIM share transfers
In the 2013 Budget, the Government announced that with effect from April 2014, it would abolish stamp duty on the transfer of shares quoted on growth markets, notably AIM. The draft clauses of the Finance Bill 2014 confirm this change will come into effect on 28 April 2014.
April 2014: third annual ‘Women on boards’ report
April is the anticipated publication date for the third annual report showing how progress has been made in achieving gender diversity on boards. The Davies Report set a target of 25% female board representation by 2015 and the UK will need to be able to demonstrate good progress towards this target to help thwart the threat of EU imposed quotas.
2014 some time: changes to statutory audit regime
At some point during 2014 we can expect legislation to address the adverse competition issues identified within the market for statutory audit services. This will include requiring FTSE350 companies to put their audit contract out to tender every 10 years as well as a ban on ‘Big Four only’ clauses in loan agreements.
2014(?): Beneficial owners registry
At the end of 2013 the Government confirmed that it is going ahead with its plans for a central, publicly accessible registry of the beneficial owners of UK registered companies. The registry will be maintained by Companies House and a company will need to report details of any person interested in 25% or more of its shares or voting rights. As yet, there’s no date for when the registry will be introduced but further details will be set out in the Government’s response to its ‘Transparency and Trust’ consultation, due out early this year.
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