I found the annual accounts for Total East Africa (now Total Kenya) for the year 1990 and tried to compare the changes over the years. This is important as companies with over a hundred thousand shareholders (Eveready, Safaricom) will be considering cutting their costs soon until they are able to use e-mail for distribution.
comparing the 1990 and 2006 annual reports from Total
size: 1990: 20 pages, black & white, no pictures, heavy envelope paper
2006: 48 pages, glossy paper, all colour, lots of pictures
Financials: 1990 profit & loss (appears on page. 8), balance sheet (p.9), cash flow (p.10) followed by notes 11 – 15 (13 notes) – showing turnover of 3.1 billion shillings and pre tax profit of 237 million.
2006 P&L (appears on p.25), balance sheet (p.26), cash flow (p.27), followed by note page 29 – 44 (32 notes) – showing turnover or 38.0 billion shillings, and pre tax profit of 677 million.
shareholding: 13.7m ordinary shares 6/= dividend [total dividend of 84 million]
173m ordinary shares 2.50 dividend [total dividend of 435 million]
1990 ½ page
2006 4 pages
Auditors statement: 1990 – Murdoch, McCrae & smith; they issued a 1 page statement with two paragraphs, saying they examined books, and they are true in their opinion.
2006 Deloitte & Touché: 1 page statement with 6 paragraphs; explaining directors’ responsibility, auditors’ role, audit process, and finally their opinion that the accounts are true.
Other Formatting: what’s missing from 1990, that’s found in 2006? shareholder profile (p.22) mission & ,vision (p.2), directors bios & photos (2 pages), picture of key managers (1 page), management report (5 pages), company profile (4 pages), corporate social responsibility and adverting messages.
verdict: companies like Eveready can cut back on the ‘filler’ and give an annual report with just the basics to cut the postage cost in ½. Last year they issued a small size report that was short on ‘filler’ but financial, regulatory and governance changes have also contributed to the increasing size of corporate reports and resultant shareholder costs.