Thursday, February 17, 2011

"More likely than not" is dead

At yesterday's meeting (Feb. 16), the IASB and FASB agreed to withdraw the proposal to include lease renewal options in the lease term when judged "more likely than not" to be exercised. This was the proposal in the Exposure Draft, which was almost universally opposed by respondents, particularly preparers of statements. Asset Finance International's summary of the meeting notes in addition to complaints of difficulty of implementation and subjectivity, another persuasive argument for board members was that real estate lease renewals frequently are not actually implemented as stated in the original option, but are subject to negotiation like a new lease, so the stated option doesn't necessarily reflect what the terms will be even if "exercised."

Rather than reinstating current terminology on when to include options (when "reasonably certain" or "reasonably assured" of exercise due to various economic factors), the boards have tentatively chosen the phrase "clear economic incentive." The boards didn't seem to think there was a substantial difference in impact, so it seems to be more a stylistic choice.

Reassessment of lease terms, which previously was required on a quarterly basis, is now to be required only when there is a significant change in circumstances, such as an addition or removal of a "clear economic incentive" on a renewal option.

Contingent rents will be discussed today.

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