The sub-prime crisis’ expected drag on close cycles failed to emerge, according to latest figures from Paragon Consulting and BPM International. (See companion article.)

In the financial services sector, a handful of larger European banks—including BNP Paribas, Société Générale, Deutsche Bank and ING—added a week to reporting timetables, though most other companies achieved close cycles at least as fast as last year.

More broadly, European companies continued to achieve reductions in close cycles—both in terms of preliminary announcements and auditor sign-offs. However, American companies remain faster than their European counterparts, widening the gap between them even more in the latest rankings.

Cycle time reductions in 2007/2008 reflect a longer-term trend. Over the past five years, 60% of the largest European companies have reduced their time from year-end to the preliminary results announcement by around ten days, with 46% of companies cutting their time to audit by an average of 14 days.

How the rankings are compiled

Paragon Consulting and BPM International have jointly published global close cycle rankings for the past three years.

The preliminary announcement date in the tables below is the local date on which a press announcement was released or a web conference held, according to the company web sites or stock exchange releases. The date of the preliminary announcement is taken as the date when the company announces substantive financial results for the financial year, including income statement, balance sheet and cash flow information. Earlier public announcements of limited key figures such as sales and volumes, when unaccompanied by more detailed financial information for the year, are not used.

The audit date is the earliest date on which the audit report was signed off in the annual report or other public document.

Where data cannot be found it is marked “N/A.”

The constituents of the close cycle rankings are drawn from the most recently published rankings available at the start of each annual project. They include the FTSE Global 100, the FTSE Euro Top 100, the NYSE US 100, the UK FTSE 100, and the top members of the following European country indexes: Austria 21 (ATX), France 40 (CAC), Germany 110 (HDAX Index), Netherlands 23 (AEX), Nordic 40 (OMX Index), Norway 10 (Oslo Stock Exchange), Portugal 20 (PSI), and the Switzerland 50 (SMIEXP Index).

Global close-cycle rankings
Top improvements in European close-cycle times

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