Corporate reporting bodies plan merger to harmonise standards

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LONDON, Nov 25 (Reuters) - The International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) and the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) plan to join forces as part of a shift to harmonise global corporate reporting standards, they said on Wednesday.

The combined group, to be known as the Value Reporting Foundation, would help investors and companies to report on sustainability issues, they said in a statement, adding that the aim is to have the new body up and running by the middle of next year.

The plan follows calls from companies and investors including BlackRock, the world's largest asset manager, to simplify the process of reporting on sustainability issues such as diversity and carbon emissions.

It also follows a September agreement between the SASB, IIRC and peers including the Global Reporting Initiative, CDP and the Climate Disclosure Standards Board (CDSB) to work together to develop a "comprehensive corporate reporting system".

"Sustainability disclosure is at the top of the agenda for many, creating incredible momentum towards simplifying the corporate reporting landscape. By merging two organizations focused on enterprise value creation, we hope to clarify the field," said SASB Chief Executive Janine Guillot.

While the IIRC framework describes relevant topics affecting company valuations and how to integrate them into corporate reporting, SASB provides precise definitions of what data to provide on key issues, said IIRC board chair Barry Melancon.

Other bodies could also join the new venture, with the Value Reporting Foundation and CDSB both keen to enter "exploratory discussions in the coming months", it said. (Reporting by Simon Jessop Editing by David Goodman)