Topic 402 - Business combinations

This topic includes FAQs relating to the following IFRS standards, IFRIC Interpretations and SIC Interpretations:

IFRS 3 Business Combinations

Other resources

  • IFRS At a Glance by standard is available here
  • IFRS in Practice: Distinguishing between a Business Combination and an Asset Purchase in the Extractives Industry is available here

 

Sub-topic within this main topic are set out below, with links to IFRS Interpretation Committee agenda decisions and BDO IFRS FAQs relating to that sub-topic below each sub-topic:

Sub-topic Number Sub-topic and Related FAQ
402.1 Scope and definitions
  • 402.1.1.1
  • 402.1.1.2
  • 402.1.1.3
  • 402.1.1.4
402.2 Definition of a business
402.3 Definition of a business: optional concentration test
402.4 The acquisition method
402.5 Step 1: identifying the acquirer
  • 402.5.1.1
402.6 Step 1: identifying the acquirer - reverse acquisitions
  • 402.6.1.1
  • 402.6.1.2
402.7 Step 2: determining the acquisition date
402.8 Step 3: recognising and measuring the identifiable assets acquired, the liabilities assumed and any non-controlling interest in the acquiree
402.9 Step 3: recognition and measurement - intangible assets
  • 402.9.1.1
402.10 Step 3: recognition and measurement - exceptions to the recognition and/or measurement principles
402.11 Step 4: recognising and measuring goodwill or a gain from bargain purchase
402.12 Business combination achieved in stages
402.13 Business combination achieved without transfer of consideration
402.14 Measurement period
402.15 Determining what is part of the business combination transaction
  • 402.15.1.1
  • 402.15.1.2
402.16 Subsequent measurement and accounting - reacquired rights, contingent liabilities recognised at the acquisition date, indemnification assets and contingent consideration
402.17 Disclosure
402.18 Other issues
  • 402.18.1.1

 

FAQ#

Title

Text of FAQ

402.1.1.1

IFRIC Agenda Decision - "Transitory" common control

March 2006 - The IFRIC considered whether a reorganisation involving the formation of a new entity to facilitate the sale of part of an organisation is a business combination within the scope of IFRS 3.

IFRS 3 does not apply to business combinations in which all the combining entities or businesses are under common control both before and after the combination, unless that control is transitory. It was suggested to the IFRIC that, because control of the new entity is transitory, a combination involving that newly formed entity would be within the scope of IFRS 3.

IFRS 3 paragraph 22 (now paragraph B18) states that when an entity is formed to issue equity instruments to effect a business combination, one of the combining entities that existed before the combination must be identified as the acquirer on the basis of the evidence available (now must be identified as the acquirer by applying the guidance in paragraphs B13⁠–⁠B17). The IFRIC noted that, to be consistent, the question of whether the entities or businesses are under common control applies to the combining entities that existed before the combination, excluding the newly formed entity. Accordingly, the IFRIC decided not to add this topic to its agenda.

The IFRIC also considered a request for guidance on how to apply IFRS 3 to reorganisations in which control remains within the original group. The IFRIC decided not to add this topic to the agenda, since it was unlikely that it would reach agreement in a reasonable period, in the light of existing diversity in practice and the explicit exclusion of common control transactions from the scope of IFRS 3.

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402.1.1.2

IFRIC Agenda Decision - Remeasurement of previously held interests

January 2016 - The Interpretations Committee discussed whether previously held interests in the assets and liabilities of a joint operation should be remeasured in the following transactions when the asset or group of assets involved in such transactions do not meet the definition of a business in accordance with IFRS 3 Business Combinations:

a.

obtaining control of a joint operation when the entity previously had joint control of, or was a party to, the joint operation before the transaction; and

b.

a change of interests resulting in a party to a joint operation obtaining joint control over the joint operation. The party to the joint operation had rights to the assets and obligations for the liabilities relating to the joint operation before the transaction.

The Interpretations Committee noted that paragraph 2(b) of IFRS 3 explains the requirements for accounting for an asset acquisition in which the asset or group of assets do not meet the definition of a business. The Interpretations Committee noted that paragraph 2(b) of IFRS 3 specifies that a cost-based approach should be used in accounting for an asset acquisition, and that in a cost-based approach the existing assets are generally not remeasured. The Interpretations Committee also observed that it was not aware of significant diversity in practice and, therefore, decided not to add this issue to its agenda.

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402.1.1.3

IFRIC Agenda Decision - Recognition of deferred taxes when acquiring a single-asset entity that is not a business

March 2017 - The Committee received a submission questioning how, in its consolidated financial statements, an entity accounts for a transaction in which it acquires all the shares of another entity that has an investment property as its only asset. In the fact pattern submitted, the acquiree had recognised in its statement of financial position a deferred tax liability arising from measuring the investment property at fair value. The amount paid for the shares is less than the fair value of the investment property because of the associated deferred tax liability. The transaction described in the submission does not meet the definition of a business combination in IFRS 3 Business Combinations because the acquired entity is not a business. The acquiring entity applies the fair value model in IAS 40 Investment Property.

The submitter asked whether the requirements in paragraph 15(b) of IAS 12 permit the acquiring entity to recognise a deferred tax liability on initial recognition of the transaction. If this is not the case, the submitter asked the Committee to consider whether the requirements in paragraph 15(b) of IAS 12 should be amended so that, in these circumstances, the acquiring entity would not recognise a gain on measuring the investment property at fair value immediately after initial recognition of the transaction.

The Committee noted that:

a.

because the transaction is not a business combination, paragraph 2(b) of IFRS 3 requires the acquiring entity, in its consolidated financial statements, to allocate the purchase price to the assets acquired and liabilities assumed; and

b.

paragraph 15(b) of IAS 12 says that an entity does not recognise a deferred tax liability for taxable temporary differences that arise from the initial recognition of an asset or liability in a transaction that is not a business combination and that, at the time of the transaction, affects neither accounting profit or loss nor taxable profit (tax loss).

Accordingly, on acquisition, the acquiring entity recognises only the investment property and not a deferred tax liability in its consolidated financial statements. The acquiring entity therefore allocates the entire purchase price to the investment property.

The Committee concluded that the requirements in IFRS Standards provide an adequate basis for an entity to determine how to account for the transaction. The Committee also concluded that any reconsideration of the initial recognition exception in paragraph 15(b) of IAS 12 is something that would require a Board-level project. Consequently, the Committee decided not to add this matter to its standard-setting agenda.

The Committee noted that the Board had recently considered whether to add a project on IAS 12 to the Board’s agenda but had decided not to do so. Consequently, the Committee did not recommend that the Board consider adding a project to its agenda on this topic.

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402.1.1.4

IFRIC Agenda Decision - Acquisition of a Group of Assets

November 2017 - The Committee received a request asking how an entity accounts for the acquisition of a group of assets that does not constitute a business (the group). More specifically, the submitter asked how to allocate the transaction price to the identifiable assets acquired and liabilities assumed when:

a.

the sum of the individual fair values of the identifiable assets and liabilities is different from the transaction price; and

b.

the group includes identifiable assets and liabilities initially measured both at cost and at an amount other than cost.

Paragraph 2(b) of IFRS 3 requires an entity to do the following on acquisition of a group of assets:

a.

identify and recognise the individual identifiable assets acquired and liabilities assumed; and

b.

allocate the cost of the group to the individual identifiable assets and liabilities based on their relative fair values at the date of the acquisition.

Other IFRS Standards include initial measurement requirements for particular assets and liabilities (for example, IFRS 9 Financial Instruments for financial instruments). The Committee observed that if an entity initially considers that there might be a difference between the transaction price for the group and the sum of the individual fair values of the identifiable assets and liabilities, the entity first reviews the procedures it has used to determine those individual fair values to assess whether such a difference truly exists before allocating the transaction price. The Committee then considered two possible ways of accounting for the acquisition of the group.

Applying the first approach, an entity accounts for the acquisition of the group as follows:

a.

it identifies the individual identifiable assets acquired and liabilities assumed that it recognises at the date of the acquisition;

b.

it determines the individual transaction price for each identifiable asset and liability by allocating the cost of the group based on the relative fair values of those assets and liabilities at the date of the acquisition; and then

c.

it applies the initial measurement requirements in applicable Standards to each identifiable asset acquired and liability assumed. The entity accounts for any difference between the amount at which the asset or liability is initially measured and its individual transaction price applying the relevant requirements.

Applying the second approach, for any identifiable asset or liability initially measured at an amount other than cost, an entity initially measures that asset or liability at the amount specified in the applicable IFRS Standard. The entity deducts from the transaction price of the group the amounts allocated to the assets and liabilities initially measured at an amount other than cost, and then allocates the residual transaction price to the remaining identifiable assets and liabilities based on their relative fair values at the date of the acquisition.

The Committee concluded that a reasonable reading of the requirements in paragraph 2(b) of IFRS 3 on the acquisition of a group of assets that does not constitute a business results in one of the two approaches outlined in this agenda decision. The Committee observed that an entity would apply its reading of the requirements consistently to all acquisitions of a group of assets that does not constitute a business. An entity would also disclose the selected approach applying paragraphs 117⁠–⁠124 of IAS 1 Presentation of Financial Statements if that disclosure would assist users of financial statements in understanding how those transactions are reflected in reported financial performance and financial position.

In the light of its analysis, the Committee considered whether to add a project on the acquisition of a group of assets to its standard-setting agenda. The Committee noted that any such project would not be narrow in scope. With this in mind, the Committee observed that it had not obtained sufficient evidence that the outcomes of applying the two approaches outlined in this agenda decision would be expected to have a material effect on the amounts that entities report. Consequently, the Committee concluded that a project would not result in an improvement in financial reporting that would be sufficient to outweigh the costs. The Committee therefore decided not to add this matter to its standard-setting agenda.

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402.5.1.1

IFRIC Agenda Decision - Identification of the acquirer in accordance with IFRS 3 and the parent in accordance with IFRS 10 Consolidated Financial Statements in a stapling arrangement

May 2014 - The Interpretations Committee received a request to clarify the interaction of the requirements in IFRS 3 (as revised in 2008) for identifying an acquirer with the requirements in IFRS 10 for deciding whether control exists. More specifically, the submitter is seeking clarification of whether an acquirer identified for the purpose of IFRS 3 (as revised in 2008) is a parent for the purpose of IFRS 10 in circumstances in which a business combination is achieved by contract alone, such as a stapling arrangement, with no combining entity obtaining control of the other combining entities.

IFRS 3 (as revised in 2008) defines a business combination as “a transaction or other event in which an acquirer obtains control of one or more businesses”. In addition, IFRS 3 (as revised in 2008) refers to IFRS 10 for the meaning of the term ‘control’. IFRS 10 states that an investor controls an investee when it is exposed, or has rights, to variable returns from its involvement with the investee and has the ability to affect those returns through its power over the investee. Hence, the Interpretations Committee observed that an investment is not needed in order for an entity to control another entity.

The definition of a business combination in IFRS 3 (as revised in 2008) includes transactions in which an acquirer obtains control of one or more businesses. It also includes transactions that are sometimes referred to as ‘true mergers’ or ‘mergers of equals’. In other words, it includes transactions in which none of the combining entities obtains control of the other combining entities. The Interpretations Committee discussed a stapling arrangement and noted that if the stapling arrangement combines separate entities and businesses by the unification of ownership and voting interests in the combining entities, then such a transaction is a business combination as defined by IFRS 3 (as revised in 2008).

Notwithstanding the fact that IFRS 3 (as revised in 2008) includes business combinations in which none of the combining entities obtains control of the other combining entities, the Interpretations Committee noted that paragraph 6 of IFRS 3 (as revised in 2008) requires that one of the combining entities in a business combination must be identified as the acquirer. Paragraphs B14⁠–⁠B18 of IFRS 3 (as revised in 2008) provide additional guidance for identifying the acquirer if the guidance in IFRS 10 does not clearly indicate which combining entity is the acquirer.

The Interpretations Committee also noted that paragraph B15(a) of IFRS 3 (as revised in 2008) provides guidance on identifying the acquirer by assessing the relative voting rights in the combined entity after the combination—this guidance explains that the acquirer is usually the combining entity whose owners, as a group, receive the largest portion of the voting rights in the combined entity. This guidance is consistent with the Interpretations Committee’s observation that the definition of a business combination includes transactions in which none of the combining entities or businesses are identified as having control of the other combining entities. The Interpretations Committee thought that this guidance would be relevant to identifying which of the combining entities is the acquirer in the stapling transaction considered.

The Interpretations Committee noted that the IASB stated in the IASB Update for September 2004 that the intended interaction between IFRS 3 (issued in 2004) and IAS 27 Consolidated and Separate Financial Statements is that an entity that is identified as the ‘acquirer’ of another entity in accordance with IFRS 3 (issued in 2004) is a ‘parent’ for the purposes of IAS 27. The Interpretations Committee noted that the meaning of the term ‘acquirer’ has not changed since 2004 and that the term ‘control’ is used consistently between IFRS 3 (as revised in 2008) and IFRS 10. It also noted that the notion in IFRS 3 (as revised in 2008) that a business combination could occur even if none of the combining entities obtains control of the other combining entities has not changed from IFRS 3 (issued in 2004). Accordingly, the Interpretations Committee observed that the IASB’s statement on the interaction between IFRS 3 (issued in 2004) and IAS 27 remains valid in respect of the interaction between IFRS 3 (as revised in 2008) and IFRS 10. Consequently, the Interpretations Committee observed that the combining entity in the stapling arrangement that is identified as the acquirer for the purpose of IFRS 3 (as revised in 2008) should prepare consolidated financial statements of the combined entity in accordance with IFRS 10.

The Interpretations Committee noted that there is little diversity in practice for the accounting for business combinations achieved by contract alone. It further noted that it does not expect diversity to emerge in the future on the basis of the analysis on the requirements and guidance in IFRS 3 (as revised in 2008) and IFRS 10. 

Accordingly, the Interpretations Committee decided not to add this issue to its agenda.

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402.6.1.1

IFRIC Agenda Decision - Acquirer in a reverse acquisition

September 2011 - The Interpretations Committee received a request for guidance asking whether a business that is not a legal entity could be considered to be the acquirer in a reverse acquisition under IFRS 3.

The Committee noted that in accordance with paragraph 7 of IFRS 3, the acquirer is ‘the entity that obtains control of the acquiree’ and, in accordance with Appendix A of IFRS 3, the acquiree is ‘the business or businesses that the acquirer obtains control of in a business combination’.

The Committee observed that IFRSs and the current Conceptual Framework do not require a ‘reporting entity’ to be a legal entity. Consequently, the Committee noted that an acquirer that is a reporting entity, but not a legal entity, can be considered to be the acquirer in a reverse acquisition.

The Committee noted that this issue is not widespread. Consequently, the Committee decided not to add this issue to its agenda.

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402.6.1.2

IFRIC Agenda Decision - Accounting for reverse acquisitions that do not constitute a business

March 2013 - The Interpretations Committee received requests for guidance on how to account for transactions in which the former shareholders of a non-listed operating entity become the majority shareholders of the combined entity by exchanging their shares for new shares of a listed non-operating entity. However, the transaction is structured such that the listed non-operating entity acquires the entire share capital of the non-listed operating entity.

In the absence of a Standard that specifically applies to this transaction the Interpretations Committee observed that the analysed transaction has some features of a reverse acquisition under IFRS 3 because the former shareholders of the legal subsidiary obtain control of the legal parent. Consequently, it is appropriate to apply by analogy, in accordance with paragraphs 10⁠–⁠12 of IAS 8 Accounting Policies, Changes in Accounting Estimates and Errors, the guidance in paragraphs B19⁠–⁠B27 of IFRS 3 for reverse acquisitions. Application of the reverse acquisitions guidance by analogy results in the non-listed operating entity being identified as the accounting acquirer, and the listed non-operating entity being identified as the accounting acquiree. The Interpretations Committee noted that in applying the reverse acquisition guidance in paragraph B20 of IFRS 3 by analogy, the accounting acquirer is deemed to have issued shares to obtain control of the acquiree.

If the listed non-operating entity qualifies as a business on the basis of the guidance in paragraph B7 of IFRS 3, IFRS 3 would be applicable to the transaction. However, if the listed non-operating entity is not a business, the transaction is not a business combination and is therefore not within the scope of IFRS 3. Because the analysed transaction is not within the scope of IFRS 3, the Interpretations Committee noted that it is therefore a share-based payment transaction which should be accounted for in accordance with IFRS 2.

The Interpretations Committee observed that on the basis of the guidance in paragraph 13A of IFRS 2, any difference in the fair value of the shares deemed to have been issued by the accounting acquirer and the fair value of the accounting acquiree’s identifiable net assets represents a service received by the accounting acquirer. The Interpretations Committee concluded that, regardless of the level of monetary or non-monetary assets owned by the non-listed operating entity, the entire difference should be considered to be payment for a service of a stock exchange listing for its shares, and that no amount should be considered a cost of raising capital. The Interpretations Committee observed that the service received in the form of a stock exchange listing does not meet the definition of an intangible asset because it is not “identifiable” in accordance with paragraph 12 of IAS 38 Intangible Assets (ie it is not separable). The service received also does not meet the definition of an asset that should be recognised in accordance with other Standards and the Conceptual Framework.

The Interpretations Committee also observed that on the basis of the guidance in paragraph 8 of IFRS 2 which states that “when the goods or services received or acquired in a share-based payment transaction do not qualify for recognition as assets, they shall be recognised as expenses”, the cost of the service received is recognised as an expense. 

On the basis of the analysis above, the Interpretations Committee determined that, in the light of the existing IFRS requirements, neither an interpretation nor an amendment to Standards was necessary and consequently decided not to add this issue to its agenda.

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402.9.1.1

IFRIC Agenda Decision - Customer‑related intangible assets

March 2009 - The IFRIC received a request to add an item to its agenda to provide guidance on the circumstances in which a non‑contractual customer relationship arises in a business combination. IFRS 3 (as revised in 2008) requires an acquirer to recognise the identifiable intangible assets of the acquiree separately from goodwill. An intangible asset is identifiable if it meets either the contractual‑legal criterion or the separable criterion in IAS 38 Intangible Assets. Contractual customer relationships are always recognised separately from goodwill because they meet the contractual‑legal criterion. However, non‑contractual customer relationships are recognised separately from goodwill only if they meet the separable criterion.

The IFRIC noted that the IFRS Glossary defines the term ‘contract’. Paragraphs B31⁠–⁠B40 of IFRS 3 provide application guidance on the recognition of intangible assets and the different criteria related to whether they are established on the basis of a contract. The IFRIC also noted that paragraph IE28 in the illustrative examples accompanying IFRS 3 provides indicators for identifying the existence of a customer relationship between an entity and its customer and states that a customer relationship ‘may also arise through means other than contracts, such as through regular contact by sales or service representatives.’

The IFRIC concluded that how the relationship is established helps to identify whether a customer relationship exists but should not be the primary basis for determining whether the acquirer recognises an intangible asset. The IFRIC noted that the criteria in paragraph IE28 might be more relevant. The existence of contractual relationships and information about a customer’s prior purchases would be important inputs in valuing a customer relationship intangible asset but should not determine whether it is recognised.

In the light of the explicit guidance in IFRS 3, the IFRIC decided that developing an Interpretation reflecting its conclusion is not possible. Noting widespread confusion in practice on this issue, the IFRIC decided that it could be best resolved by referring it to the IASB and the FASB with a recommendation to review and amend IFRS 3 by:

(i)

removing the distinction between ‘contractual’ and ‘non‑contractual’ customer‑related intangible assets recognised in a business combination; and

(ii)

reviewing the indicators that identify the existence of a customer relationship in paragraph IE28 of IFRS 3 and including them in the standard.

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402.15.1.1

IFRIC Agenda Decision - Acquisition‑related costs in a business combination

July 2009 - The IFRIC had received requests to clarify the treatment of acquisition‑related costs that the acquirer incurred before it applies IFRS 3 (as revised in 2008) that relate to a business combination that is accounted for according to the revised IFRS.

In accordance with the revised IFRS 3, because acquisition‑related costs are not part of the exchange transaction between the acquirer and the acquiree (or its former owners), they are not considered part of the business combination. Therefore, except for costs to issue debt or equity securities that are recognised in accordance with IAS 32 and IAS 39, the revised IFRS 3 requires an entity to account for acquisition‑related costs as expenses in the periods in which the costs are incurred and the services are received. In contrast, IFRS 3 (as issued in 2004) required the acquisition‑related costs to be included in the cost of a business combination.

The IFRIC noted that more than one interpretation of how the requirements of the two IFRSs interact was possible. Accordingly, the IFRIC concluded that an entity should disclose its accounting policy for such costs and the amount recognised in the financial statements. Because this was a transitional issue that would not arise for accounting periods beginning on or after 1 July 2009, the IFRIC decided not to add the issue to its agenda.

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402.15.1.2

IFRIC Agenda Decision - Continuing employment

January 2013- The Interpretations Committee received a request for guidance on the accounting in accordance with IFRS 3 Business Combinations for contingent payments to selling shareholders in circumstances in which those selling shareholders become, or continue as, employees. The submitter asked the Interpretations Committee to clarify whether paragraph B55(a) of IFRS 3 is conclusive in determining that payments to an employee that are forfeited upon termination of employment are remuneration for post-combination services and not part of the consideration for an acquisition. The question arose because the submitter asserted that paragraph B55 introduces subparagraphs (a)⁠–⁠(h) as indicators, but paragraph B55(a) uses conclusive language stating that the arrangement described is remuneration for post-combination services.

The Interpretations Committee observed that an arrangement in which contingent payments are automatically forfeited if employment terminates would lead to a conclusion that the arrangement is compensation for post-combination services rather than additional consideration for an acquisition, unless the service condition is not substantive. The Interpretations Committee reached this conclusion on the basis of the conclusive language used in paragraph B55(a) of IFRS 3.

The Interpretations Committee also noted that IFRS 3 is part of the joint effort by the IASB and the US-based Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) to promote the convergence of accounting standards. The Interpretations Committee was advised that the Post-implementation Review of FASB Statement No. 141R Business Combinations is in progress, and that the opportunity to co-ordinate any work on this issue with the FASB would arise after the conclusion of the Post-implementation Review of FASB Statement No. 141R.

Consequently, the Interpretations Committee decided not to add this issue to its agenda at this time and to revisit this issue after completion of the Post-implementation Review of FASB Statement No. 141R.

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402.18.1.1

IFRIC Agenda Decision - Earlier application of IFRS 3

July 2009 - The IFRIC had received requests to clarify whether IFRS 3 (as revised in 2008) must be applied from the beginning of an annual period if it was adopted early.

The IFRIC noted that paragraph 64 of IFRS 3 (as revised in 2008) requires the revised IFRS to be applied for the whole annual period if it is applied early.

The IFRIC also noted that the question of whether an entity can decide during a reporting period to apply a revised IFRS early is not unique to the revised IFRS 3. The IFRIC observed that this question should be answered in accordance with the general principles in IAS 8 Accounting Policies, Changes in Accounting Estimates and Errors. Accordingly, if an entity chooses to apply the revised IFRS 3 early, it must apply it to all business combinations that occurred in the annual period in which the revised IFRS is first applied.

The IFRIC concluded that relevant guidance on the early application of the revised IFRS 3 existed in IFRSs and it did not expect divergence in practice. Therefore, the IFRIC decided not to add the issue to its agenda.

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