Valuation for Impairment Testing

by  Adv. Praneeth GN  

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Ensure Financial Transparency with Expert Impairment Testing

In the dynamic world of finance, ensuring the accurate valuation of assets is crucial for informed decision-making. This blog delves into the critical concept of valuation for impairment testing, a process that safeguards your company’s financial health and transparency.

Understanding Impairment Testing

Impairment testing is a mandatory accounting procedure that evaluates whether an asset’s carrying value (book value) exceeds its recoverable amount. The recoverable amount is the higher of the asset’s fair value less costs of disposal (FVLCD) or its value in use (VIU).

Essentially, impairment testing identifies potential asset devaluation and ensures your financial statements accurately reflect their current worth.

Why is Impairment Testing Important?

Accurate valuation offers several benefits:

  • Financial Transparency: Impairment testing promotes transparency in financial reporting, reflecting the true value of assets on the balance sheet. This fosters trust with stakeholders, including investors, creditors, and regulators.
  • Improved Decision-Making: By identifying potential impairment, businesses can make informed decisions. This may involve selling the asset, restructuring operations, or revising depreciation estimates.
  • Compliance with Accounting Standards: Impairment testing adheres to International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) or Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements.

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When is Impairment Testing Required? (Ind AS 36)

This section clarifies when companies need to assess their assets for potential impairment according to Indian Accounting Standard (Ind AS) 36. The standard outlines different requirements for goodwill, intangible assets with indefinite lives, and other assets.

Impairment Testing Triggers:

Ind AS 36 requires impairment testing to be performed under two main scenarios:

  1. At Each Reporting Date: Companies must evaluate all individual assets and cash-generating units (CGUs) for impairment indicators at every reporting date. This ensures timely identification of potential asset value decline.
  2. Annually for Specific Assets: Regardless of impairment indicators, the following assets require annual impairment testing:
    • Intangible assets with indefinite useful lives (e.g., brand names)
    • Intangible assets not yet available for use (e.g., development stage patents)
    • Goodwill was acquired in a business combination

Identifying Impairment Indicators:

Ind AS 36 provides a non-exhaustive list of indicators (internal and external) that suggest potential asset impairment. Here’s a breakdown of these categories:

External Indicators:

  • Significant decline in the market value of similar assets.
  • Major changes in technology, market conditions, economic factors, or legal regulations negatively impact the company.
  • Increase in market interest rates or return rates, affecting the discount rate used for calculating an asset’s value in use.
  • The carrying amount of the entity’s net assets exceeds its market capitalization (total market value of outstanding shares).
  • Disappearance of an active market for previously revalued intangible assets.

Internal Indicators:

  • Obsolescence or physical damage to an asset.
  • Significant changes or adverse events impact the entity’s current or future use of an asset. Examples include:
    • Plans to discontinue or restructure operations where the asset is used.
    • Plans to dispose of the asset.
    • Reassessment of an asset’s useful life from indefinite to finite.
  • Carrying the amount of an investment in separate financial statements exceeding the carrying amount of the investee’s net assets (including goodwill) in consolidated financial statements.
  • Dividends received from a subsidiary, joint venture, or associate exceeding their total comprehensive income for the period the dividend is declared.

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Valuation Methods for Impairment Testing

There are two primary methods used for impairment testing:

  1. Fair Value Less Costs of Disposal (FVLCD) Approach:
    • This method is preferred when an active market exists for the asset being tested.
    • It involves estimating the asset’s fair market value and deducting the disposal costs, such as dismantling or selling costs.
  2. Value in Use (VIU) Approach:
    • This approach is used when an active market for the asset doesn’t exist or when the asset is considered integral to the company’s operations.
    • It involves estimating the future cash flows the asset is expected to generate, discounting them to present value, and considering any residual value at the end of its useful life.

The choice of method depends on factors such as the nature of the asset, the existence of an active market, and the intended use of the asset within the business.

Factors Affecting Valuation for Impairment Testing

Several factors can influence the valuation of an asset for impairment testing:

  • Physical Condition: The asset’s age, wear and tear, and overall condition significantly impact its value.
  • Technological Obsolescence: Rapid advancements can render machinery or technology outdated, leading to a potential decrease in value.
  • Market Fluctuations: Changes in market demand or industry trends can influence the value of certain assets.
  • Economic Conditions: The overall economic climate can affect asset values, especially for assets with a high dependence on market conditions.

Importance of Impairment Testing

Financial accountability is paramount for businesses. Accounting and reporting standards mandate that companies carry assets on their balance sheets at no more than their recoverable amount. This recoverable amount represents the higher of the asset’s fair value less costs of disposal (FVLCD) or its value in use (VIU). In simpler terms, the recorded value of an asset shouldn’t exceed the amount it would realistically generate if sold or the ongoing value it brings to the business.

To comply with this crucial accounting principle, businesses must conduct impairment testing as per relevant standards like ASC 820 or IFRS. These evaluations determine whether an asset’s carrying value has surpassed its recoverable amount, ensuring the accuracy of financial reporting and a transparent picture of the company’s financial health.

Impairment Methodology Explained

Determining an asset’s impairment involves a structured approach to estimating its recoverable value and comparing it to the carrying amount on the books. Here’s a breakdown of the key steps:

1. Estimating Recoverable Amount (RA):

The recoverable amount is the higher of two possible values for a cash-generating unit (CGU) or an individual asset:

  • Fair Value Less Costs of Disposal (FVLCOD): This represents the price obtainable in an arm’s-length transaction between willing buyers and sellers. The fair value reflects market perceptions and considers only publicly known and supportable future developments. Costs of disposal include legal fees, taxes, and costs associated with preparing the asset for sale.
  • Value in Use (VIU): This represents the present value of future cash flows expected from the asset’s continued use. It’s typically estimated using the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) method:
    • Step 1: Forecast Cash Flows: Project future cash inflows and outflows based on reasonable and supportable assumptions, typically covering a maximum of 5 years. These cash flows should reflect the asset’s current operating status and exclude potential improvements or future restructuring plans.
    • Step 2: Terminal Cash Flow: Estimate the cash flow at the end of the projection period (terminal value). This can be calculated using the Gordon Growth Model or the Exit Multiple Method.
    • Step 3: Discounting Cash Flows: Apply a suitable discount rate to the projected cash flows to arrive at their present value. This discount rate considers the time value of money and the specific risks associated with the asset.

2. Comparing Recoverable Amount (RA) and Carrying Amount (CA):

Once the recoverable amount is established, compare it to the asset’s carrying amount in the financial statements. If the carrying amount is higher than the recoverable amount, an impairment loss needs to be recognized.

3. Recognizing Impairment Loss (if applicable):

  • Record the impairment loss immediately in the profit or loss statement.
  • Allocate the impairment loss to reduce the carrying amount of the CGU’s assets in a specific order:
    • First, reduce any goodwill allocated to the CGU.
    • Then, proportionally reduce the carrying amount of the remaining CGU assets.

Important Points to Keep in Mind:

  • It’s not always necessary to calculate both FVLCOD and VIU. If either amount exceeds the carrying amount, the asset is not considered impaired.
  • The carrying amount for comparison includes any goodwill allocated to the CGU.
  • The impairment loss cannot reduce an asset’s carrying amount below its individual recoverable amount or zero, whichever is higher.
  • While the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM) is often used to determine the discount rate in practice, Ind AS 36 requires a pre-tax rate reflecting current market assessments and asset-specific risks.

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Benefits of Impairment Testing

Impairment testing offers significant advantages beyond just meeting regulatory requirements. Here’s how it benefits businesses:

  • Enhanced Financial Transparency: By identifying potential asset devaluation, impairment testing promotes transparency in financial statements. This fosters trust with stakeholders, including investors, creditors, and regulators, who base their decisions on accurate financial information.
  • Informed Decision-Making: Knowing the true value of their assets empowers businesses to make strategic decisions. This may involve selling an underperforming asset, restructuring operations to optimize asset use, or revising depreciation estimates to better reflect the asset’s value over time.
  • Investor Confidence: Regular impairment testing demonstrates a commitment to responsible financial management. This, in turn, helps maintain investor confidence in the company’s long-term financial stability and growth potential.

Key terms in Ind AS 36 – Impairment of Assets

  • Carrying Amount (CA): This represents the current value of an asset reflected in the financial statements. It’s calculated by taking the initial cost of the asset and subtracting any accumulated depreciation (for wear and tear) and any impairment losses recognized in the past.
  • Recoverable Amount (RA): This is the higher value an asset can realistically generate for the company, considering two options:
    • Fair Value Less Costs to Sell (FVLCOS): This is the estimated market price the asset could fetch in a fair and open transaction, minus any disposal costs, such as dismantling or transportation expenses.
    • Value in Use (VIU): This reflects the present value (discounted future cash flows) the asset is expected to generate for the company through its continued use or operation.
  • Fair Value Less Costs to Sell (FVLCOS) or Fair Value Less Costs of Disposal (FVLCOD): These terms are essentially interchangeable and represent the estimated market value of the asset in an arm’s length transaction minus the associated disposal costs.
  • Value in Use (VIU): This concept focuses on the future cash inflows the asset can generate for the company if it’s kept and used in its current condition. It essentially estimates the asset’s future earning potential.
  • Cash-Generating Unit (CGU): This refers to the smallest identifiable group of assets that can function independently and generate cash flows on its own. It’s often a department, a product line, or a specific plant within a larger company.
  • Impairment Loss: This represents the decrease in an asset’s value when its carrying amount exceeds its recoverable amount. In simpler terms, it’s the difference between what the asset is currently listed for in the financial statements (carrying amount) and the lower value it can realistically generate (recoverable amount).

Scope of Ind As 36

The Scope of Ind AS 36 offers a comprehensive framework for assessing asset impairment. It emphasizes evaluation at the lowest feasible level and often consolidates assets into cash-generating units (CGUs) for analysis. While certain exclusions exist, the standard broadly applies to most assets, ensuring thorough scrutiny and transparent financial reporting.

Adherence to specified procedures, from identifying assets within scope to determining impairment and recognizing associated losses, facilitates a meticulous process. Ultimately, this framework serves as a cornerstone for entities, promoting accuracy and reliability in financial statements, bolstering stakeholder confidence, and enabling informed decision-making.

Impairment Testing Case Studies

Understanding how impairment testing functions in the Indian context is crucial. Here are some real-world case studies involving Indian companies and Ind AS 36:

Case Study 1: Reliance Communications (2018)

  • Industry: Telecommunications
  • Situation: Reliance Communications faced a debt burden and intense competition in the Indian telecom sector. This led to a decline in its financial performance and profitability.
  • Impairment Test: The company conducted an impairment test on its goodwill and other intangible assets. The test revealed a significant impairment charge, reflecting the reduced future cash flows expected from its operations due to the challenging market conditions.
  • Learning Points: This case highlights how competitive pressures and financial difficulties can trigger impairment testing under Ind AS 36. Companies need to reassess intangible asset values to ensure their financial statements accurately represent their current worth.

Case Study 2: Tata Motors (2020)

  • Industry: Automobile
  • Situation: The COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted the Indian automobile industry, leading to a decline in Tata Motors’ vehicle sales.
  • Impairment Test: The company performed an impairment test on its property, plant, and equipment (PP&E), considering the potential decrease in future cash flows from its manufacturing operations. Depending on the severity of the pandemic’s impact, the test might have resulted in an impairment charge. (Unfortunately, publicly available information may not disclose the specific outcome of the test.)
  • Learning Points: External events like pandemics can trigger impairment testing under Ind AS 36. Companies need to assess the impact of such events on asset values and adjust accordingly.

Case Study 3: IL&FS (Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services) (2018)

  • Industry: Infrastructure Financing
  • Situation: IL&FS faced a liquidity crisis due to excessive debt and mismanagement. This significantly impacted its ability to generate future cash flows.
  • Impairment Test: The company likely performed impairment tests on various assets, including goodwill, investments in subsidiaries, and property, plant, and equipment. The tests would have resulted in substantial impairment charges reflecting the diminished value of the assets due to the financial crisis.
  • Learning Points: This case emphasizes the importance of impairment testing during financial distress. It ensures financial statements reflect the true value of assets under challenging circumstances.

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Conclusion

Impairment testing plays a vital role in safeguarding your company’s financial health and maintaining accurate financial reporting. By understanding the valuation process and the various factors that influence it, businesses can ensure they are making informed decisions about their assets.

Partnering with experienced professionals for impairment testing helps businesses navigate valuation complexities and achieve optimal asset management strategies.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What is impairment testing and why is it mandatory in India?

Ans 1. Impairment testing is a mandatory accounting procedure under the Indian Accounting Standards (Ind AS) that evaluates whether an asset’s carrying value (book value) exceeds its recoverable amount. This ensures your financial statements accurately reflect the true worth of your assets, fostering transparency and promoting trust with stakeholders like investors and creditors.

Q2. What is the recoverable amount of an asset as per Indian accounting standards?

Ans 2. The recoverable amount is the higher of two values, as defined by Ind AS 36:

  • Fair value minus costs of disposal (FVLCD): This represents the estimated price you could fetch for the asset in a fair market transaction within India, minus any associated disposal costs.
  • Value in use (VIU): This reflects the present value of the future cash flows the asset is expected to generate for your company based on Indian market conditions.

Q3. How often does impairment testing need to be conducted in India?

Ans 3. Impairment testing is typically performed annually as per Ind AS 36. However, it’s also advisable to conduct it whenever there’s an indication that an asset’s value might have declined. Events like obsolescence, significant changes in the Indian market, or physical deterioration can trigger such evaluations.

Q4. Who can conduct impairment testing in India?

Ans 4. While companies can perform internal assessments for impairment testing, complex situations may benefit from involving registered valuers in India. Their expertise in Indian market valuations ensures objective and reliable valuations that meet your business’s specific needs.

Q5. What are the key benefits of conducting impairment testing in India?

Ans 5. Impairment testing offers several advantages:

  • Enhanced Financial Transparency: Accurate valuations promote trust with stakeholders by reflecting true asset value on the balance sheet.
  • Informed Decision-Making: Knowing the true value of assets empowers businesses to make strategic choices regarding asset management (sell, restructure, revise depreciation, etc.), considering the Indian market context.
  • Compliance with Accounting Standards: Impairment testing adheres to established accounting standards like Ind AS, ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements.

Q6. What are the different approaches used for impairment testing in India?

Ans 6. There are two primary methods under Ind AS 36:

  • Fair Value Less Costs of Disposal (FVLCD) Approach: This method is preferred when an active market exists for the asset type within India.
  • Value in Use (VIU) Approach: This approach is used when there’s no active market for the asset in India or when the asset is considered integral to the company’s operations. Valuation should consider Indian market-specific factors affecting future cash flows.

Q7. What are some factors that can influence the valuation of an asset for impairment testing in India?

Ans 7. Several factors can impact asset valuation in the Indian context:

  • Physical Condition: The asset’s age, wear and tear, and overall condition significantly affect its value.
  • Technological Obsolescence: Rapid advancements can render machinery or technology outdated, leading to a potential decrease in value considering the Indian technological landscape.
  • Market Fluctuations: Changes in market demand or industry trends specific to the Indian market can influence asset values.
  • Economic Conditions: The overall economic climate in India can affect asset values, especially for assets with a high dependence on Indian market conditions.

Q8. What are the potential consequences of not conducting impairment testing in India?

Ans 8. Failing to conduct impairment testing can lead to several negative outcomes:

  • Overstated Asset Values: Inaccurate financial statements that overestimate asset value, potentially misleading stakeholders.
  • Misleading Investor Confidence: Investors may make decisions based on inaccurate financial information.
  • Potential Regulatory Issues: Non-compliance with Ind AS could lead to penalties from regulatory bodies in India.

Q9. How can businesses in India prepare for impairment testing?

Ans 9. Businesses can prepare for impairment testing by:

  • Gathering Asset Information: Compile a list of assets with descriptions, model numbers, and purchase dates specific to the Indian market.
  • Locating Purchase Records: Find original purchase invoices or receipts for equipment in India.
  • Maintaining Records: Ensure proper maintenance records and service logs are readily available.
  • Monitoring Indian Market Trends: Stay informed about industry trends specific to the Indian market that could potentially affect asset values.

Enhance Decision-Making with Data: Make informed decisions regarding asset management and financial planning based on our thorough valuation reports.

Adv. Praneeth GN

Adv. Praneeth GN

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Praneeth GN is a legal consultant who prioritises ethical and professional conduct. He graduated with (B.A. and LL.B) from the K.L.E. Society Law College. With more than 8 years of experience in handling legal cases independently. He has the potential to understand and explain complicated legal words in simple terms to clients.

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