A report this week from consultancy KPMG warns that many European companies are well behind in the currency conversion process and could see costs rocketing.
The third annual European Monetary Union report from KPMG states that four out of 10 companies in Europe have not sized the cost of conversion, which the report estimates to be an average $21.5 million. A further $29.8 million has to be added in to account for new price transparency, business consolidation and loss of earnings.
The total bill is now estimated to be $85 billion, 70 per cent higher than was estimated at the same time last year. One of the biggest causes of costs jumping is companies having to adapt their own conversion timetable to those of suppliers and large customers.
"Nearly a quarter of our respondents intend to use the euro as their main purchasing and pricing currency by the end of 1999. However, the majority only plan to reach this stage by 2001," said Vicky Pryce, chief economist at KPMG.
What concerns Pryce is organisations that had planned an orderly adoption at the later date could be forced by influential customers or suppliers to switch to the euro earlier.
"Bringing forward conversion plans would cause serious disruption, placing strain on areas such as financial accounting, treasury and IT - most of which may already be stretched to meet existing deadlines," she concluded.
More disturbing for IT directors, three in 10 of the 300 companies questioned could not confirm that their IT systems would be able to cope with monetary union. Only 60 per cent had formulated a full strategy as to how to convert IT systems, although this is higher than in 1997.
Also a worry - only half of the companies have actually allocated a budget for the conversion process, a sure sign according to the KPMG report, that plans for conversion will be inadequate to cope.
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