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Introduction to IFRS 3 - Business Combinations

Reasons for issuing the IFRS

The revised International Financial Reporting Standard 3 Business Combinations (IFRS 3) is part of a joint effort by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) and the US Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) to improve financial reporting while promoting the international convergence of accounting standards. Each board decided to address the accounting for business combinations in two phases. The IASB and the FASB deliberated the first phase separately. The FASB concluded its first phase in June 2001 by issuing FASB Statement No. 141 Business Combinations. The IASB concluded its first phase in March 2004 by issuing the previous version of IFRS 3 Business Combinations. The boards’ primary conclusion in the first phase was that virtually all business combinations are acquisitions. Accordingly, the boards decided to require the use of one method of accounting for business combinations—the acquisition method.

The second phase of the project addressed the guidance for applying the acquisition method. The boards decided that a significant improvement could be made to financial reporting if they had similar standards for accounting for business combinations. Thus, they decided to conduct the second phase of the project as a joint effort with the objective of reaching the same conclusions. The boards concluded the second phase of the project by issuing this IFRS and FASB Statement No. 141 (revised 2007) Business Combinations and the related amendments to IAS 27 Consolidated and Separate Financial Statements and FASB Statement No. 160 Noncontrolling Interests in Consolidated Financial Statements.1

The IFRS replaces IFRS 3 (as issued in 2004) and comes into effect for business combinations for which the acquisition date is on or after the beginning of the first annual reporting period beginning on or after 1 July 2009. Earlier application is permitted, provided that IAS 27 (as amended in 2008) is applied at the same time.

Main features of the IFRS

The objective of the IFRS is to enhance the relevance, reliability and comparability of the information that an entity provides in its financial statements about a business combination and its effects. It does that by establishing principles and requirements for how an acquirer:
(a) recognises and measures in its financial statements the identifiable assets acquired, the liabilities assumed and any non-controlling interest in the acquiree;

(b) recognises and measures the goodwill acquired in the business combination or a gain from a bargain purchase; and

(c) determines what information to disclose to enable users of the financial statements to evaluate the nature and financial effects of the business combination.

Core principle

An acquirer of a business recognises the assets acquired and liabilities assumed at their acquisition-date fair values and discloses information that enables users to evaluate the nature and financial effects of the acquisition.

Applying the acquisition method

A business combination must be accounted for by applying the acquisition method, unless it is a combination involving entities or businesses under common control or the acquiree is a subsidiary of an investment entity, as defined in IFRS 10 Consolidated Financial Statements, which is required to be measured at fair value through profit or loss.One of the parties to a business combination can always be identified as the acquirer, being the entity that obtains control of the other business (the acquiree).Formations of a joint venture or the acquisition of an asset or a group of assets that does not constitute a business are not business combinations.

The IFRS establishes principles for recognising and measuring the identifiable assets acquired, the liabilities assumed and any non-controlling interest in the acquiree. Any classifications or designations made in recognising these items must be made in accordance with the contractual terms, economic conditions, acquirer’s operating or accounting policies and other factors that exist at the acquisition date.

Each identifiable asset and liability is measured at its acquisition-date fair value.
Non-controlling interests in an acquiree that are present ownership interests and entitle their holders to a proportionate share of the entity’s net assets in the event of liquidation are measured at either fair value or the present ownership instruments’ proportionate share in the recognised amounts of the acquiree’s net identifiable assets. All other components of non-controlling interests shall be measured at their acquisition-date fair values, unless another measurement basis is required by IFRSs.

The IFRS provides limited exceptions to these recognition and measurement principles:

(a) Leases and insurance contracts are required to be classified on the basis of the contractual terms and other factors at the inception of the contract (or when the terms have changed) rather than on the basis of the factors that exist at the acquisition date.

(b) Only those contingent liabilities assumed in a business combination that are a present obligation and can be measured reliably are recognised.

(c) Some assets and liabilities are required to be recognised or measured in accordance with other IFRSs, rather than at fair value. The assets and liabilities affected are those falling within the scope of IAS 12 Income Taxes, IAS 19 Employee Benefits, IFRS 2 Share-based Payment and IFRS 5 Non-current Assets Held for Sale and Discontinued Operations.

(d) There are special requirements for measuring a reacquired right.

(e) Indemnification assets are recognised and measured on a basis that is consistent with the item that is subject to the indemnification, even if that measure is not fair value.

The IFRS requires the acquirer, having recognised the identifiable assets, the liabilities and any non-controlling interests, to identify any difference between:

(a) the aggregate of the consideration transferred, any non-controlling interest in the acquiree and, in a business combination achieved in stages, the acquisition-date fair value of the acquirer’s previously held equity interest in the acquiree; and

(b) the net identifiable assets acquired.

The difference will, generally, be recognised as goodwill. If the acquirer has made a gain from a bargain purchase that gain is recognised in profit or loss.

The consideration transferred in a business combination (including any contingent consideration) is measured at fair value.

In general, an acquirer measures and accounts for assets acquired and liabilities assumed or incurred in a business combination after the business combination has been completed in accordance with other applicable IFRSs. However, the IFRS provides accounting requirements for reacquired rights, contingent liabilities, contingent consideration and indemnification assets.


The IFRS requires the acquirer to disclose information that enables users of its financial statements to evaluate the nature and financial effect of business combinations that occurred during the current reporting period or after the reporting date but before the financial statements are authorised for issue. After a business combination, the acquirer must disclose any adjustments recognised in the current reporting period that relate to business combinations that occurred in the current or previous reporting periods.