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Journal Article

Intellectual Capital and IFRS3: A New Disclosure Opportunity  pp21-30

Daniel Brännström, Marco Giuliani

© Apr 2009 Volume 7 Issue 1, ECKM 2008, Editor: Roy Williams, pp1 - 198

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Abstract

As a response to the absence of an exhaustive generally accepted accounting principle handling the issue of intangibles, academics and practitioners have developed a plethora of models, methods and tools for identifying, measuring and valuing intangibles. Conscious of this situation, some authors have started asking for empirical studies of how these models make the IC issue clearer to stakeholders in general and specifically to the capital market (Guthrie, et al., 2001; Marr and Chatzkel, 2004). The introduction of International Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS) 3 (a regulation demanding the identification and valuation of intangible assets in business combinations) may be considered as the opportunity for a practical application of the methods and tools proposed by the Intellectual Capital (IC) community, i.e. to make intangible assets such as customer capital, know how, etc. visible in the financial statement. IFRS3 is a possibility to disentangle the "black‑box" of goodwill and for the financial accounting issue to adhere to some of the critique emanating from the IC debate. As a result, IFRS3 can be seen as an opportunity to test the relevance of the IC models and to reduce the gap between IC Accounting and Financial Accounting (Petty and Guthrie, 2000; Roslender and Fincham, 2001). Drawing on the debate of how to frame intangibles (Chaminade and Catasús, 2007), the aim of the paper is to analyze the distance, from an empirical perspective, between IC accounting and financial accounting in order to understand if a gap exists. Thus we will investigate how firms have applied IFRS3 by studying what the relevance of intangibles is, which intangible assets have been identified and valued and what goodwill is disclosed as in the purchase analyses. The empirical corpus consists of financial statements of Swedish and Italian listed firms. The methodology adopted is based on an empirical analysis of the purchase analyses supplied by the firms in the financial statements, referring to the first year mandatory adoption of IFRS3 (fiscal year 2006). The disclosed information is analyzed through both quantitative and qualitative analyses. The study finds that the analytical methods are still at a very first stage and consequently there is the trend to appreciate, at least in the financial statement, the majority of the IC as goodwill. The second finding is that even if they represent the minority part of the invisible value of the company, IFRS3 has really allowed for several intangible assets usually not disclosed in the financial statements such as customer relationships, contract portfolio, etc to be made visible. A third finding is the lack of explanations for this amount of goodwill. All in all, the paper highlights that, from an empirical perspective, both financial and IC accounting models are not able to adequately grasp IC "at work".

 

Keywords: intellectual capital, valuation, financial accounting, goodwill, purchase analysis

 

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