Home' A Plus Magazine : Jan 2013 Contents Lee Yin-toa is a partner and Laurence Carabin is a
senior consultant, financial services, Asia Pacific financial
accounting advisory services, at Ernst & Young in Hong Kong.
January 2013 45
Furthermore, it is not always clear at
what level to assess a joint arrangement to
determine if joint control exists, for instance
in the case of a master agreement -- a single
contract with terms and conditions for
numerous entities and activities. In order to
assess whether a party has control, entities
should familiarize themselves with the new
rules in HKFRS 10.
Meanwhile, unanimous consent exists
when the parties have collective control over
the arrangement and no single party has
control. In fact, contractual arrangements
may not always be explicit to sufficiently
demonstrate existence of unanimous consent.
No matter what terminology is used to
describe the arrangement, only if all three
requirements for joint control are present
would the arrangement be considered a joint
arrangement. Otherwise, the arrangement
falls outside the scope of HKFRS 11.
Once a joint arrangement is considered
as present and identified, we can look at
its classification: either as a joint venture
or a joint operation. Unlike in HKAS 31,
structure or legal form is not the sole factor
in determining classification. HKFRS 11
focuses also on the nature and substance
of rights and obligations arising from the
If a joint arrangement is not structured
through a separate vehicle, it is a joint
operation. If it is so structured, the entity
should further assess whether the legal
form of the separate vehicle, terms of the
contractual arrangements and/or other
facts and circumstances (commitments,
restrictions, finance, guarantees and
responsibilities) extend to the parties' rights
to the assets and obligations for liabilities of
the arrangement. Should this be the case,
the arrangement also qualifies as a joint
operation; otherwise, such an arrangement
may be considered a joint venture.
The classification will lead to a different
treatment in the financial statements. A
joint operator will recognize its share of
assets, liabilities, revenues and expenses.
On the contrary, joint venturers will use the
equity method, as the Institute removed
the option of proportionate consolidation.
Joint venturers would then have to change
their accounting, depending on their
Many jointly controlled entities expect to
be classified as joint ventures, even more
so when doing business in the Mainland.
Indeed, most Chinese joint ventures are cur-
rently established as "equity joint ventures"
with a separate legal person under PRC law,
and profit, control, and risk are divided in
proportion to the equity shares invested by
the parties. HKFRS 11, combined with the
intention to keep proportionate consolida-
tion, could lead to the conclusion of "con-
tractual joint ventures" which are also called
cooperative agreements. In this case, profit,
control, and risks are divided according to
negotiated contract terms.
In case HKFRS 11 leads to a shift from
proportionate consolidation to the equity
method, management should consider how
key financial metrics would be impacted. As
a consequence, the investment in the joint
venture will be captured in a single line item
in the financial statement position.
Total assets and liabilities will decrease
to the extent of the entity's previously
recognized share in the individual assets and
liabilities of the joint venture. The removal
of the entities' proportionate share of debt
could cause the financial leverage ratio to be
smaller, including gearing.
Concerning the profit or loss, there will
be no change in net income. However, total
revenue and total expenses will decrease,
which could affect the total asset turnover
ratio, depending on the absolute and relative
changes of revenue and assets.
Entities should exercise an appropriate
level of care in accounting for their rights
and obligations under HKFRS 11. This new
standard has removed some "bright lines"
and led to the exercise of considerable
judgment. Accountants are therefore not
able to make conclusions alone and should
invite input from operations and legal
counsel as well as close involvement by
Management should also consider the
requirements of HKFRS 11 when negotiat-
ing new contracts or modifying existing
arrangements. In certain cases, audit com-
mittees and independent auditors need to
discuss material areas and document key
Contractual arrangements should be
analysed thoroughly, and accountants
should develop robust accounting policies
and modify performance metrics and debt
covenants. It should be noted that 1 January
is the mandatory adoption date for calendar
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