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Introduction to IAS 36 - Impairment of Assets


1 International Accounting Standard 36 Impairment of Assets (IAS 36) replaces IAS 36 Impairment of Assets (issued in 1998), and should be applied:

(a) on acquisition to goodwill and intangible assets acquired in business combinations for which the agreement date is on or after 31 March 2004.

(b) to all other assets, for annual periods beginning on or after 31 March 2004. Earlier application is encouraged.

2 The International Accounting Standards Board developed this revised IAS 36 as part of its project on business combinations. The project’s objective was to improve the quality of, and seek international convergence on, the accounting for business combinations and the subsequent accounting for goodwill and intangible assets acquired in business combinations.

3 The project had two phases. The first phase resulted in the Board issuing simultaneously in 2004 IFRS 3 Business Combinations and revised versions of IAS 36 and IAS 38 Intangible Assets. The Board’s deliberations during the first phase of the project focused primarily on the following issues:

(a) the method of accounting for business combinations;

(b) the initial measurement of the identifiable assets acquired and liabilities and contingent liabilities assumed in a business combination;

(c) the recognition of provisions for terminating or reducing the activities of an acquiree;

(d) the treatment of any excess of the acquirer’s interest in the fair values of identifiable net assets acquired in a business combination over the cost of the combination; and

(e) the accounting for goodwill and intangible assets acquired in a business combination.

4 The second phase of the project resulted in the Board issuing simultaneously in 2008 a revised IFRS 3 and amendments to IAS 27 Consolidated and Separate Financial Statements1. The Board’s intention while revising IAS 36 was to reflect only those changes related to its decisions in the Business Combinations project, and not to reconsider all of the requirements in IAS 36. The changes that have been made in the Standard are primarily concerned with the impairment test for goodwill.

1 The consolidation requirements in IAS 27 were superseded by IFRS 10 Consolidated Financial Statements, issued in May 2011.

Summary of main changes

Frequency of impairment testing

5 The previous version of IAS 36 required the recoverable amount of an asset to be measured whenever there is an indication that the asset may be impaired. This requirement is included in the Standard. However, the Standard also requires:

(a) the recoverable amount of an intangible asset with an indefinite useful life to be measured annually, irrespective of whether there is any indication that it may be impaired. The most recent detailed calculation of recoverable amount made in a preceding period may be used in the impairment test for that asset in the current period, provided specified criteria are met.

(b) the recoverable amount of an intangible asset not yet available for use to be measured annually, irrespective of whether there is any indication that it may be impaired.

(c) goodwill acquired in a business combination to be tested for impairment annually.

Measuring value in use

6 The Standard clarifies that the following elements should be reflected in the calculation of an asset’s value in use:

(a) an estimate of the future cash flows the entity expects to derive from the asset;

(b) expectations about possible variations in the amount or timing of those future cash flows;

(c) the time value of money, represented by the current market risk-free rate of interest;

(d) the price for bearing the uncertainty inherent in the asset; and

(e) other factors, such as illiquidity, that market participants would reflect in pricing the future cash flows the entity expects to derive from the asset.

The Standard also clarifies that the second, fourth and fifth of these elements can be reflected either as adjustments to the future cash flows or adjustments to the discount rate.

7 The Standard carries forward from the previous version of IAS 36 the requirement for the cash flow projections used to measure value in use to be based on reasonable and supportable assumptions that represent management’s best estimate of the economic conditions that will exist over the remaining useful life of the asset. However, the Standard clarifies that management:

(a) should assess the reasonableness of the assumptions on which its current cash flow projections are based by examining the causes of differences between past cash flow projections and actual cash flows.

(b) should ensure that the assumptions on which its current cash flow projections are based are consistent with past actual outcomes, provided the effects of subsequent events or circumstances that did not exist when those actual cash flows were generated make this appropriate.

8 The previous version of IAS 36 required the cash flow projections used to measure value in use to be based on the most recent financial budgets/forecasts approved by management. The Standard carries forward this requirement, but clarifies that the cash flow projections exclude any estimated cash inflows or outflows expected to arise from:

(a) future restructurings to which the entity is not yet committed; or

(b) improving or enhancing the asset’s performance.

9 Additional guidance on using present value techniques in measuring an asset’s value in use is included in Appendix A of the Standard. In addition, the guidance in the previous version of IAS 36 on estimating the discount rate when an asset-specific rate is not directly available from the market has been relocated to Appendix A.

Identifying the cash-generating unit to which an asset belongs

10 The Standard carries forward from the previous version of IAS 36 the requirement that if an active market exists for the output produced by an asset or a group of assets, that asset or group of assets should be identified as a cash-generating unit, even if some or all of the output is used internally. However, the previous version of IAS 36 required that, in such circumstances, management’s best estimate of future market prices for the output should be used in estimating the future cash flows used to determine the unit’s value in use. It also required that when an entity was estimating future cash flows to determine the value in use of cash-generating units using the output, management’s best estimate of future market prices for the output should be used. The Standard requires that if the cash inflows generated by any asset or cash-generating unit are affected by internal transfer pricing, an entity should use management’s best estimate of future price(s) that could be achieved in arm’s length transactions in estimating:

(a) the future cash inflows used to determine the asset’s or cash-generating unit’s value in use; and

(b) the future cash outflows used to determine the value in use of other assets or cash-generating units affected by the internal transfer pricing.

Allocating goodwill to cash-generating units

11 The previous version of IAS 36 required goodwill acquired in a business combination to be tested for impairment as part of impairment testing the cash-generating unit(s) to which it related. It employed a ‘bottom-up/top-down’ approach under which the goodwill was, in effect, tested for impairment by allocating its carrying amount to each cash-generating unit or smallest group of cash-generating units to which a portion of that carrying amount could be allocated on a reasonable and consistent basis. The Standard similarly requires goodwill acquired in a business combination to be tested for impairment as part of impairment testing the cash-generating unit(s) to which it relates. However, the Standard clarifies that:

(a) the goodwill should, from the acquisition date, be allocated to each of the acquirer’s cash-generating units, or groups of cash-generating units, that are expected to benefit from the synergies of the business combination, irrespective of whether other assets or liabilities of the acquiree are assigned to those units or groups of units.

(b) each unit or group of units to which the goodwill is allocated should:

(i) represent the lowest level within the entity at which the goodwill is monitored for internal management purposes; and

(ii) not be larger than an operating segment determined in accordance with IFRS 8 Operating Segments.

12 The Standard also clarifies the following:


(a) if the initial allocation of goodwill acquired in a business combination cannot be completed before the end of the annual period in which the business combination occurs, that initial allocation should be completed before the end of the first annual period beginning after the acquisition date.

(b) when an entity disposes of an operation within a cash-generating unit (group of units) to which goodwill has been allocated, the goodwill associated with that operation should be:

(i) included in the carrying amount of the operation when determining the gain or loss on disposal; and

(ii) measured on the basis of the relative values of the operation disposed of and the portion of the cash-generating unit (group of units) retained, unless the entity can demonstrate that some other method better reflects the goodwill associated with the operation disposed of.

(c) when an entity reorganises its reporting structure in a manner that changes the composition of cash-generating units (groups of units) to which goodwill has been allocated, the goodwill should be reallocated to the units (groups of units) affected. This reallocation should be performed using a relative value approach similar to that used when an entity disposes of an operation within a cash-generating unit (group of units), unless the entity can demonstrate that some other method better reflects the goodwill associated with the reorganised units (groups of units).

Timing of impairment tests for goodwill

13 The Standard permits:

(a) the annual impairment test for a cash-generating unit (group of units) to which goodwill has been allocated to be performed at any time during an annual reporting period, provided the test is performed at the same time every year.

(b) different cash-generating units (groups of units) to be tested for impairment at different times.

However, if some of the goodwill allocated to a cash-generating unit (group of units) was acquired in a business combination during the current annual period, the Standard requires that unit (group of units) to be tested for impairment before the end of the current period.

14 The Standard permits the most recent detailed calculation made in a preceding period of the recoverable amount of a cash-generating unit (group of units) to which goodwill has been allocated to be used in the impairment test for that unit (group of units) in the current period, provided specified criteria are met.

Reversals of impairment losses for goodwill

15 The previous version of IAS 36 required an impairment loss recognised for goodwill in a previous period to be reversed when the impairment loss was caused by a specific external event of an exceptional nature that is not expected to recur and subsequent external events have occurred that reverse the effect of that event. The Standard prohibits the recognition of reversals of impairment losses for goodwill.

Disclosure

16 The Standard requires that if any portion of the goodwill acquired in a business combination during the period has not been allocated to a cash-generating unit at the end of the reporting period, an entity should disclose the amount of the unallocated goodwill together with the reasons why that amount remains unallocated.

17 The Standard requires disclosure of information for each cash-generating unit (group of units) for which the carrying amount of goodwill or intangible assets with indefinite useful lives allocated to that unit (group of units) is significant in comparison with the entity’s total carrying amount of goodwill or intangible assets with indefinite lives. That information is concerned primarily with the key assumptions used to measure the recoverable amounts of such units (groups of units).

18 The Standard also requires specified information to be disclosed if some or all of the carrying amount of goodwill or intangible assets with indefinite lives is allocated across multiple cash-generating units (groups of units), and the amount so allocated to each unit (group of units) is not significant in comparison with the total carrying amount of goodwill or intangible assets with indefinite lives. Further disclosures are required if, in such circumstances, the recoverable amounts of any of those units (groups of units) are based on the same key assumption(s) and the aggregate carrying amount of goodwill or intangible assets with indefinite lives allocated to them is significant in comparison with the entity’s total carrying amount of goodwill or intangible assets with indefinite lives.



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