Monday, January 18, 2010

Dec. 18 meeting recap

The FASB & IASB held a joint meeting in London on Dec. 18. (I apologize for the delay in posting information; the end of the year is a hectic time at the office with providing year-end reports for clients.) The primary focus for discussion was contingent rentals and residual value guarantees, which were originally to be discussed in November but carried over when they ran out of time.

Contingent rentals

The boards recognized that this topic was one of the most controversial in the preliminary views document. Broadly, the boards reconfirmed their decision to include estimated future contingent rents in the obligation and asset capitalized for leases. To clarify certain aspects of the estimation process:

  • An expected outcome technique is to be used, but the boards will specify that not every possible scenario must be taken into account in this calculation. (This means that the boards have decided to go with a probability-weighted outcome, rather than the “most likely” approach originally favored by the FASB.)
  • Contingent rentals based on an index or rate would be measured using readily available forward rates. If none exist, the rates at inception of the lease would be used.
  • For lessors, a receivable would be recognized for contingent rentals would be recognized only if the receivable could be measured “reliably,” in keeping with other tentative board decisions on revenue recognition (a project that is happening simultaneously).
  • The obligation/receivable would be reassessed at each reporting date if there is a material change.

The boards could not decide whether the changes in the obligation/receivable should be matched by a change in the right-of-use asset or by a profit/loss entry, and directed the staffs to research the issue further, with plans to revisit the issue at a later date. The staff recommended that the matching entry depend on the type of contingent rent: those that result from the lessee buying more or less of the right of use (such as excess mileage charges on vehicles) would change the asset, while those based on an index or rate, or based on performance (such as percentage of sales) would be recognized in profit/loss.

Residual value guarantees

Guarantees of residual value are to be handled the same way as contingent rentals, as they are simply a specific form of a contingent payment (based on the value received by the lessor for the asset at the end of the lease term). Note that this is a significant difference from current accounting, which requires the entire guarantee to be recognized as a payment to be made; under the new regime, only an estimate of what the lessee is likely to actually pay will be counted.


The boards have decided to exclude from the scope of this standard leases of intangible assets (including software), leases to explore for or use natural resources, and leases of biological assets. “Non-core” assets will not be excluded.

The boards put the issue of excluding short-term leases back to the staff for further review and later decision.

The boards again ran out of discussion time, and so put off to Jan. 5 a discussion of excluding leases which are in-substance purchases/sales.

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