Assets Held for Sale: Definition, Accounting, Example, Where on Balance Sheet, IFRS, GAAP

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In financial reporting, certain assets undergo a classification when a company decides to divest them. This special treatment involves changes in presentation and valuation, providing stakeholders with valuable insights into the company’s strategic plans. These resources fall under the definition of assets held for sale.

What are Assets Held for Sale?

Assets held for sale is a financial accounting classification denoting assets that an entity intends to sell shortly, typically within one year. The designation signifies a clear and definitive commitment by the company to divest these assets, thereby segregating them from ongoing operational activities. Rigorous criteria must be met to qualify for this classification.

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Once assets get classified as held for sale, they are presented separately on the balance sheet, ensuring transparency and an accurate depiction of the company’s financial position. This distinct reporting delineates the assets’ value at the lower of their carrying amount or fair value, net of anticipated disposal costs, providing stakeholders with crucial insights into their potential impact on the company’s financial health.

What are the criteria for classifying Assets as Held for Sale?

Under International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS 5), specific criteria govern the classification of assets as Held for Sale, ensuring adherence to accounting principles formally and professionally:

  • Management’s intent: A well-defined and documented intention by management to sell the assets is paramount. This intent must be accompanied by a formal plan substantiating the asset’s immediate availability for sale in its present condition.
  • Active marketing efforts: Demonstrating proactive efforts in marketing the asset at a price reasonably close to its fair value is critical. Such active marketing endeavours exemplify the company’s commitment to securing a buyer and executing the sale.
  • Immediate sale availability: The asset must be readily available for sale without imposing significant restrictions or conditions that could impede its disposition within one year from the classification date.
  • High probability of sale: A high likelihood of completing the sale within the specified timeframe, typically one year from classification, must be evident. This high probability underscores the asset’s status as Held for Sale.
  • Limited changes: Any planned changes to the asset should be negligible and must not materially impact its suitability for immediate sale.
  • Active pursuit of sale completion: Continuous and diligent efforts by the company to finalize the sale, with the expectation that it gets completed within the predetermined timeframe, are imperative.

What is the accounting for Assets Held for Sale?

The accounting treatment for assets held for sale conforms rigorously to the stipulations of IFRS. Once an asset gets classified as held for sale, it undergoes a valuation adjustment, measured at the lower of its historical cost less accumulated depreciation and impairment losses or its fair value less costs to sell. Any impairment loss gets recognized in the income statement. Consequently, depreciation recognition stops if the assets aren’t a part of ongoing operations.

The balance sheet distinctly presents assets held for sale and any directly associated liabilities, ensuring transparent disclosure of the asset’s status and potential impact on the company’s financial position. Comprehensive and meticulous disclosures in the financial statements clarify the nature of the assets, the rationale for their classification, and the anticipated timeline for their sale, providing stakeholders with critical insights into these assets.

Conclusion

Assets held for sale are resources that companies intend to sell soon. The IFRS requires companies to meet specific conditions to classify and reclassify these resources. Usually, these include the management’s intent, active marketing efforts, immediate sale availability, high probability of sale, limited changes, and active pursuit of sale completion.

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