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Putin Will Renew Attacks on ‘symbolic’ Kyiv, Says City Mayor Vitali Klitschko

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Russian forces are likely to renew their attacks on Ukraine’s capital city if they succeed in their fresh offensive in the east of the country, the mayor of Kyiv said.

Vitali Klitschko said President Vladimir Putin was unlikely to be satisfied with victory in the Donbas region, where Russia has redeployed the bulk of its forces to seize territory and inflict a crushing blow on Ukraine’s army.

“Putin likes symbols . . . from the beginning Kyiv [has been] a symbol of an independent Ukraine,” the former heavyweight boxing champion said in an interview with the Financial Times.

Klitschko, elected Kyiv mayor in 2014, said he did not want inhabitants who fled the capital to return, given the risks from Russian artillery and unexploded munitions, as well as the difficulty in providing services to the full population.

Authorities were struggling to restore electricity and water to all parts of the city, which is in effect under military control. Klitschko’s message to those who escaped in the wake of Russia’s invasion on February 24: “Take your time, please don’t come back.”

Klitschko, 50, said Moscow was trying systematically to demolish Ukraine’s infrastructure as it pulverised Kyiv’s food distribution centres and targeted oil refineries.

“Russia destroyed our infrastructure to destroy our economy. It’s not a war against military forces, it’s a war against the whole Ukrainian population,” he said.

He appealed for fire engines and medical staff and said Kyiv needed to rebuild its supplies of food and water in view of the risk of another Russian ground offensive.

“Nobody knows how long will be this war. Weeks? Months? I hope not years. We need reserves and support, and not just right now — for a couple of weeks.”

Mayor Vitali Klitschko, centre, inspects the damage caused by Russian shelling in Kyiv last month © Emin Sansari/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Until recently Klitschko was to the outside world Ukraine’s best-known politician, thanks to his boxing prowess. But he has been eclipsed by President Volodymyr Zelensky, whose resilience and wartime leadership have turned him into a heroic figure.

The two men have not always seen eye to eye. Klitschko was previously aligned with former president Petro Poroshenko, who lost the election to Zelensky in 2019. The new president took steps to remove Klitschko from office following his victory, but ultimately decided against it.

The mayor paid tribute to Zelensky and his determination to remain in the capital despite threats to his safety. But he took issue with the president’s attempts to strike a peace deal with Moscow, which would trade Ukrainian neutrality for a ceasefire and security guarantees.

“Giving up a big part of our territory is a compromise? For me personally, and for millions of Ukrainians, it’s not,” he said.

“We’re ready to talk about compromise and negotiations just after the point when the last Russian soldier has left Ukraine.”

Moscow was one of the signatories of the 1994 Budapest memorandum, under which a newly independent Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons in return for guarantees of its security.

“Our neutral status was our weakest point,” Klitschko said.

The former boxer spent much of his sporting career in Germany and has been sharply critical of Germany’s prevarication over providing Ukraine with weaponry and reducing its imports of Russian energy.

“They [the Germans] were a little bit late to understand they were economic hostages to Russian politicians,” he said. “If you’re sending money it means you support the war.”

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Original Source: ft.com

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Iceland Announces Packing Ban Set Roll Out in Every UK Supermarket ‘What a Pain!’

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ICELAND has contacted its customers to announce a change to its home delivery shopping service.

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EY: a Management Consultant’s PowerPoint Guide to Splitting Up

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EY is hatching a pioneering split of its audit and advisory operations. It is a U-turn but a welcome one that — if it materialises — may set a template for its fellow Big Four audit firms. Presumably EY will start, as must all management consultants worth their salt, with a PowerPoint presentation. Lex previews the slide deck.

Slide 1: Venn diagram. EY’s global workforce of 312,000 does not coalesce into two buckets of audit and consultancy. In the middle sit a whole slew of bodies whose function serves both arms: in tax, pensions, IT, cyber security, industry expertise and other skill sets. Putting a line down the middle and sending half into the audit arm and the remainder into consultancy will not fly. Creating a third arm, which both sets can tap, seems messy.

Slide 2: Metaverse-mapped 3D flow chart (VR goggles provided). Take 140 countries, with — conservatively — twice that number of interested regulators and as many different legal structures. Add 13,000 partners, all of whom will have their own vested interests in terms of ring fencing liabilities and tapping income flows. They hold far more muscle than would be the case in your average public company: directors are replaceable, partners are the business.

Slide 3: Scatter plot chart. Severing ties with audit eliminates conflicts and thus widens the field of tech players EY can team up with to service clients. But that leaves it competing with the big integrated tech-savvy companies such as France’s Capgemini and Intel, Cognizant and Accenture (which has a two-decade head-start in going it alone) in the US.

Slide 4: Winners and losers. Slipped in at the end, because there will be many. In some ways Big Four firms resemble McDonald’s, or any other franchise. The local rainmakers draw in the business and a portion of fees go out for the name over the shopfront and technology. Asymmetric fiefdoms inevitably mean some partners have more to lose than others.

Tombstone: RIP the partnership model. It will take some fiendishly clever footwork to avoid tearing up the structure that has underpinned the industry through history. Client work is a doddle compared with this one.

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Original Source: ft.com

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EY Explores IPO or Partial Sale of Global Advisory Business

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EY is exploring a public listing or partial sale of its global advisory business as part of the most radical transformation of a Big Four accountancy firm in two decades, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter.

A stake sale or listing would raise the prospect of a massive windfall for EY’s existing partners who own and run the firm, reminiscent of the IPOs of Goldman Sachs in 1999 and Accenture in 2001.

The 312,000-strong firm, which along with Deloitte, KPMG and PwC dominates the accounting industry, is considering a historic break-up of its business as a solution to the conflicts of interest that have dogged the profession and attracted regulatory scrutiny.

EY’s advisory businesses, which offer tax, consulting and deals advice, generated revenues of $26bn last year and employ 166,000 advisers.

EY’s audit business, which generated revenues of $14bn last year, is likely to remain as a partnership following any break-up. Some advisers would shift to the audit side to support its work in areas such as tax, said people with knowledge of the details.

The newly independent advisory business would have the option of incorporating as a company, allowing it to take on external funding through a sale or IPO. Fresh investment could help it to boost growth and compete with larger consulting businesses such as Accenture, which reported revenues of $51bn last year and is valued at about $200bn on the New York Stock Exchange.

A break-up would also free EY’s advisory business to win work from companies audited by EY, opening up a swath of potential new clients that are currently off-limits under independence rules.

EY was being advised on its planning by JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs, people with knowledge of the matter said. The banks declined to comment.

The firm’s senior partners have yet to make a firm proposal to partners on whether to proceed with a restructuring and exactly what form it should take.

The sale of part of the business to external shareholders would be a radical departure. A senior partner at another firm said that selling parts of the business and handing the windfall to partners would significantly alter the existing structure where “you come in naked and you leave naked” with the business’s capital preserved for the next generation.

The Big Four are structured as networks of legally separate national member firms that pay a fee each year for shared branding, systems and technology. The set-up has prevented them from taking on external investment and made it difficult to push through radical overhauls, which require a broad consensus across the business.

However, EY is seen by many accountants as being best placed among the Big Four to push through significant international changes because its global bosses have greater influence than at competitors, where rank-and-file partners have more power.

Partners at EY will nonetheless have the opportunity to vote on any changes. Asked whether EY might line up investors before a ballot, a person with knowledge of the matter said: “We’re looking through those options. We’ll be looking to see what’s in the right interests of all the partners.”

EY and other professional services firms have “the doorbell ringing all the time” from private equity firms seeking to invest in parts of their business, said this person. An IPO would be more difficult to pull off than a private stake sale, the person added.

A split by EY would force its rivals to decide whether to follow suit. On Friday, PwC and KPMG both said they believed in the benefits of having their audit and consulting businesses under one roof.

PwC said it had “no plans to change course”. KPMG said a multidisciplinary model “brings a range of benefits”. Deloitte did not comment.

A break-up would probably attract dissent from some partners. Auditing has historically had lower profit margins and could struggle to recruit and retain staff, especially expert partners who make most of their money from consulting but provide crucial expertise in areas such as tax, said Big Four partners.

EY declined to comment on the possibility of a stake sale or an IPO. After news of its break-up planning on Thursday, global chief executive Carmine Di Sibio told staff in an email on Friday that “no . . . decisions have been made”.

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Original Post: ft.com

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