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Heads Up — FASB amends its consolidation model

Published on: May 26, 2015

Download PDFDecember 29, 2015 (Originally Issued May 26, 2015)
Volume 22, Issue 17

by the Deloitte & Touche LLP National Office Consolidation Team

This Heads Up updates our May 26, 2015, Heads Up. The changes made to it are based on speeches delivered by the SEC staff at the 2015 AICPA Conference on Current SEC and PCAOB Developments that clarify (1) the effects that interests held by related parties under common control will have on a reporting entity’s consolidation analysis (see Q&A 18 in Appendix B) and (2) how a reporting entity should evaluate whether its fee arrangement is a variable interest (see Q&A 1 in Appendix B).

Background

On February 18, 2015, the FASB issued ASU 2015-02,1 which amends the consolidation requirements in ASC 810.2 The amendments significantly change the consolidation analysis required under U.S. GAAP. While the Board’s focus during deliberations was largely on the investment management industry, the ASU could have a significant impact on the consolidation conclusions of reporting entities in other industries. For example:

  • Limited partnerships will be variable interest entities (VIEs), unless the limited partners have either substantive kick-out or participating rights. Although more partnerships will be VIEs, it is less likely that a general partner will consolidate a limited partnership.
  • The ASU amends the effect that fees paid to a decision maker or service provider have on the consolidation analysis. Specifically, it is less likely that the fees themselves would be considered a variable interest, that an entity would be a VIE, or that consolidation would result.
  • The ASU significantly amends how variable interests held by a reporting entity’s related parties or de facto agents affect its consolidation conclusion. Specifically, the ASU will result in less frequent performance of the related-party tiebreaker (and mandatory consolidation by one of the related parties) than under current U.S. GAAP.
  • For entities other than limited partnerships, the ASU clarifies how to determine whether the equity holders (as a group) have power over the entity (this will likely result in a change to current practice). The clarification could affect whether the entity is a VIE.
  • The deferral of ASU 2009-173 for investments in certain investment funds has been eliminated. Therefore, investment managers, general partners, and investors in these investment funds will need to perform a drastically different consolidation evaluation.

Although the ASU is expected to result in the deconsolidation of many entities, reporting entities will need to reevaluate all their previous consolidation conclusions.

This Heads Up summarizes the most significant changes in the ASU. The flowchart in Appendix A provides an overview of the guidance in ASC 810-10 on evaluating whether a reporting entity should consolidate another entity. Appendix B contains questions and answers (Q&As) that address some key implementation issues. Appendix C highlights the differences between ASU 2015-02 and the consolidation requirements after the application of ASU 2009-17 (referred to as “current guidance“ herein). Appendix D compares ASU 2015-02 and the consolidation requirements before the application of ASU 2009-17. (Appendix D is relevant only for investments in certain investment funds that qualified for the deferral.)

Ready, Set . . . Wait — Am I Prepared?

Preparing to adopt the ASU involves a number of steps. For example, entities may need to do some or all of the following:

  • Validate and update their inventory of legal entities — Proper identification of all legal entities being evaluated is critical since such identification affects all aspects of the consolidation analysis, including whether a legal entity is a variable or voting interest entity. Reporting entities may need to involve their legal and tax experts to determine whether certain entities meet the definition of a legal entity.
  • Categorize entities for analysis — Grouping legal entities together that have similar characteristics may help reporting entities understand the nature and structure of the entities and ensure that they are being analyzed consistently.
  • Identify fees, equity ownership, and related parties (and their interests) — Determining whether a fee arrangement is a variable interest is not always straightforward. There may be instances in which a fee arrangement contains other embedded features that are inseparable from the decision-making contract or in which the decision maker has other interests (direct interests, indirect interests through its related parties, or certain interests held by a party under common control) in the entity. In addition, identifying related parties and whether a related party is under common control is critical in the consolidation analysis.
  • Update accounting policies — Entities should start considering the extent to which they need to change processes and controls to apply the revised guidance. This includes ensuring that management and control owners in different geographical locations have the proper training to understand the effects that the ASU could have on their accounting policies and control activities.
  • Update existing conclusions for the new standard — A reporting entity is required to reevaluate each of its consolidation conclusions for the entities identified in the steps above. While the consolidation conclusion may not change, the reporting entity is required to document its revised conclusions.
  • Update financial statement disclosures — A reporting entity that has a variable interest in a VIE may now be subject to the VIE disclosure requirements. In addition, a reporting entity that no longer has a variable interest in a VIE, or has a variable interest in an entity that is no longer considered a VIE, should amend its current disclosures.

Do I Have a Variable Interest?

One of the first steps in assessing whether a reporting entity is required to consolidate another entity is to determine whether the reporting entity holds a variable interest (e.g., equity interest or a guarantee) in the entity being evaluated. While the ASU retains the current definition of a variable interest, it modifies the criteria for determining whether a decision maker’s or service provider’s fee is a variable interest.

Under current guidance, six criteria must be met before a reporting entity can conclude that a decision maker’s or service provider’s fee does not represent a variable interest. The ASU eliminates the criteria related to the fee’s priority level (ASC 810-10-55-37(b)) and significance (ASC 810-10-55-37(e) and (f)). In addition, the ASU amends the application of the criteria in ASC 810-10-55-37(c) to allow a reporting entity to exclude interests held by certain of its related parties (including de facto agents) when evaluating its economic exposure as part of determining whether its decision-making arrangement represents a variable interest.

Specifically, interests held by a decision maker’s or service provider’s related parties (or de facto agents) that are not under common control would only be included in the evaluation of whether the decision maker’s or service provider’s fee arrangement is a variable interest when the decision maker or service provider has a variable interest in the related party. If the decision maker or service provider has a variable interest in the related party, it would include its economic exposure to the entity through its related party on a proportionate basis. For example, if a decision maker or service provider owns a 20 percent interest in a related party and that related party owns 40 percent interest in the entity being evaluated, the decision maker’s or service provider’s interest would be considered equivalent to an 8 percent direct interest in the entity. However, if the decision maker or service provider did not hold the 20 percent interest in its related party, it would not include any of the related party’s interest in its evaluation.

By contrast, the full amount of interests held by a decision maker’s or service provider’s related parties (or de facto agents) that are under common control should be included in the evaluation of whether the decision maker’s or service provider’s fee arrangement represents a variable interest when (1) the decision maker or service provider has an interest in the related party or (2) the interest is held by the related party in an effort to circumvent consolidation.

Accordingly, under the ASU, the evaluation of whether fees paid to a decision maker or service provider are a variable interest focuses on whether (1) the fees are compensation for services provided and are commensurate with the level of effort required to provide those services (“commensurate“) (ASC 810-10-55-37(a)), (2) the decision maker or service provider has any other interests (direct interests, indirect interests through its related parties, or certain interests held by its related parties under common control) in the entity that absorb more than an insignificant amount of the VIE’s variability (ASC 810-10-55-37(c)), and (3) the arrangement includes only terms, conditions, or amounts that are customarily present in arrangements for similar services negotiated at arm’s length (“at market“) (ASC 810-10-55-37(d)).

See Appendix B for additional guidance on evaluating fees paid to decision makers or service providers and assessing the effect of related parties and de facto agents on the consolidation evaluation.

Editor’s Note: It is expected that because the ASU eliminates three of the criteria in ASC 810-10-55-37 and allows a decision maker to generally exclude interests held by its related parties unless the decision maker or service provider has a variable interest in the related party, fewer fee arrangements will be considered variable interests. This could significantly affect the consolidation conclusions for managers of collateralized loan obligation entities (CLOs) or collateralized debt obligation entities (CDOs) that receive a junior or subordinated fee. With the elimination of the requirement to evaluate whether fees are subordinated (i.e., whether their level of priority is lower than that of other operating liabilities), the manager may no longer have a variable interest in the entity if it does not have any other interests in the entity and all of the remaining criteria in ASC 810-10-55-37 are met. This could also affect an investment manager’s conclusion about whether it has a variable interest in an entity if, historically, the manager determined that its decision-making rights represent a variable interest solely as a result of interests held by certain of its related parties.

Is the Entity a VIE?

Unless it is exempt, a reporting entity is required to apply either the VIE model or the voting interest entity model in performing its consolidation assessment. To determine which model to apply, the reporting entity evaluates whether any of the three conditions in ASC 810-10-15-144 are present. If so, it applies the VIE model.

The ASU amends the conditions in ASC 810-10-15-14 used to evaluate whether an entity is a VIE. Specifically, it amends the requirements in ASC 810-10-15-14(b)(1) for evaluating whether the equity investors as a group have the power to direct the activities that most significantly affect the entity’s economic performance. The ASU provides two separate models for evaluating this criterion — one for limited partnerships (and similar entities) and one for all other entities (corporations).

Determining Whether a Limited Partnership (or Similar Entity) Is a VIE

Under the ASU, a limited partnership would be considered a VIE regardless of whether it otherwise qualifies as a voting interest entity unless a simple majority or lower threshold (including a single limited partner) of the “unrelated“ limited partners (i.e., parties other than the general partner, entities under common control with the general partner, and other parties acting on behalf of the general partner) have substantive kick-out rights (including liquidation rights) or participating rights. Accordingly, while simple majority kick-out or participating rights are generally ignored under current guidance in the determination of whether a limited partnership is a VIE, a limited partnership is considered a VIE under the ASU unless such rights exist.5

As a result of the ASU, limited partnerships that do not have kick-out or participating rights, but historically were not considered VIEs, will need to be evaluated under the new VIE consolidation model. Even if a reporting entity determines that it does not need to consolidate a partnership under the revised VIE requirements, it would have to provide the extensive disclosures currently required for any VIEs in which it holds a variable interest. On the other hand, partnership arrangements that include simple majority kick-out or participating rights may no longer be VIEs. While under current guidance these rights are generally ignored in the determination of whether a limited partnership is a VIE, they would be considered under the ASU. Accordingly, the limited partners may now be considered to have power over the entity if these rights are present.

Example 1: Determining Whether a Limited Partnership Is a VIE

A limited partnership is formed to acquire a real estate property. The partnership has a general partner that holds a 20 percent limited partner interest in the partnership; eight unrelated limited partners equally hold the remaining equity interests. Profit and losses of the partnership (after payment of general partner fees, which represent a variable interest in the entity) are distributed in accordance with the partners’ ownership interests. There are no other arrangements between the partnership and the general partners/limited partners.

The general partner is the property manager and has full discretion to buy and sell properties, manage the properties, and obtain financing. In addition, the general partner can be removed without cause by a simple majority of all of the limited partners (including the limited partner interests held by the general partner). The removal rights are held by all the partners in proportion to their partnership interests.

 hu-vol22-issue-17-example-1

Under current guidance, determining whether the equity group (partners) has power (ASC 810-10-15-14(b)(1)) focuses on whether (1) the general partner’s interest is considered substantive and part of the equity at risk or (2) the general partner can be removed by a single unrelated limited partner. However, the analysis under the ASU focuses on whether the general partner can be removed by a simple majority (or lower threshold) of all the “unrelated“ limited partners. In this example, the limited partner interests held by the general partner are permitted to vote on the removal of the general partner. The general partner, through its limited partner interests, will therefore vote 20 percent of the overall interests voting on the removal. The unrelated limited partner interests only hold 80 percent of the interests voting on removal. Since the unrelated limited partners are unable to remove the general partner unless more than a simple majority of the limited partner interests vote on the removal (i.e., 75 percent of the unrelated limited partner interests — six of the eight unrelated limited partners — would be needed to remove the general partner as a result of the general partner’s presumed “no” vote), the kick-out rights would not be substantive, and the limited partnership would be considered a VIE.

Note that some partnership agreements are structured so that the general partner and its related parties are unable to exercise the rights associated with any limited partner interests they hold. In these situations, a simple majority of the unrelated limited partners with equity at risk may have the ability to exercise substantive kick-out rights over the general partner, regardless of whether the general partner holds any other interests. As a result of the ASU’s increased focus on the rights held by limited partner investors, entities must carefully analyze whether the requirements in ASC 810-10-15-14(b)(1)(ii) are met.

See Appendix B for additional guidance on considerations related to limited partnerships and similar entities.

Determining Whether an Entity Other Than a Limited Partnership (or Similar Entity) Is a VIE

The ASU clarifies that for entities other than limited partnerships, a two-step process must be used to evaluate the conditions in ASC 810-10-15-14(b)(1) (whether the equity holders (as a group) have power). However, in situations in which the equity holders have delegated the decision-making responsibility, but the decision maker’s fee arrangement is not a variable interest under ASC 810-10-55-37, the reporting entity would not be required to perform the two-step evaluation. That is, the decision maker would be acting as a fiduciary on behalf of the equity holders and, therefore, it is presumed that the equity holders have power over the entity’s most significant activities.

Step 1: Do the Equity Holders Have Power Through Their Voting Rights?

As part of the first step in the two-step process, the reporting entity must identify the level at which the entity’s most significant decisions are made. For example, certain decisions may be made by the board of directors, while others may be made by a decision maker through a contract that is substantively separate from the equity interests. If decisions about the most significant activities are made by the board of directors (which would be the case for most operating entities), the decision maker would effectively be acting as a service provider on behalf of the board of directors. Accordingly, as discussed in paragraph BC35 of the Basis for Conclusions of ASU 2015-02, the equity holders would have power over the entity’s most significant activities through their equity interests (even if the entity has a decision maker) when “the equity holders’ voting rights provide them with the power to elect the entity’s board of directors and the board is actively involved in making“ the entity’s significant decisions.

If a reporting entity concludes that the most significant activities of the entity are directed by the decision maker (and not by the board of directors), the equity holders would not have the power to direct the most significant activities unless the equity holders have the ability to constrain the decision maker’s authority. ASC 810-10-55-8A contains an example of a situation in which the equity holders have the ability to (1) replace a fund manager, (2) approve the fund manager’s compensation, and (3) determine the overall investment strategy of the entity. In the example, it is concluded that the equity investors (rather than the investment manager through its decision-making contract) have power through their voting rights because of their ability to constrain the decision maker’s authority. Accordingly, provided that the other conditions in ASC 810-10-15-14 are met, the entity would not be
a VIE.

Editor’s Note: The example in the ASU indicates that the rights afforded to the equity investors of a series fund structure that operates in accordance with the Investment Company Act of 1940 (the “1940 Act“) would typically give the shareholders the ability to direct the activities that most significantly affect the fund’s economic performance through their equity interests (i.e., they meet the “power“ criterion). While these rights are often given to the investors of a fund structure that is regulated under the 1940 Act, fund structures established in foreign jurisdictions (particularly those established in a structure similar to a series structure), or domestic funds that do not operate in accordance with the requirements of the 1940 Act, are less likely to meet this requirement.

Step 2: Can the Decision Maker With Power Be Removed?

A reporting entity may conclude that the equity holders as a group do not have power through their equity interests but rather that the power rests with a decision maker that is not considered part of the equity group. In this situation, the second step in the evaluation would focus on whether a single equity holder (including its related parties and de facto agents) has the unilateral ability to remove the decision maker or participate in the activities that most significantly affect the entity’s economic performance. Unless a single party has the unilateral ability to exercise those rights, the entity will be a VIE.

Editor’s Note: Paragraph BC36 of the Basis for Conclusions of ASU 2015-02 indicates that “the Board does not intend for the two-step analysis . . . to apply only to series mutual funds.“ All entities (including those that qualified for the deferral) will therefore need to be evaluated under this requirement. While this two-step evaluation will generally result in fewer VIEs under the ASU than under current guidance, entities that qualified for the deferral may now be VIEs.

The following chart illustrates the process of determining whether an other than limited partnership (or similar entity) is a VIE.

hu-vol22-issue-17-flowchart-1

In the determination of whether an entity is a VIE, proper identification of the legal entity being evaluated is critical because the scope of the consolidation evaluation under ASC 810-10 is limited to a reporting entity’s involvement with another legal entity. The Basis for Conclusions of ASU 2015-02 provides additional guidance on whether a fund established in a series fund structure should be evaluated as a separate legal entity. Specifically, paragraphs BC38 and BC39 indicate that in performing the consolidation analysis, reporting entities should view each individual series fund within a series fund structure that is regulated under the 1940 Act as a separate legal entity. The ASU does not address how the individual series funds in a series fund structure should be evaluated when such funds are (1) established in a foreign jurisdiction or (2) not regulated under the 1940 Act.

See Appendix B for additional guidance on considerations related to entities other than limited partnerships and similar entities. See also Q&As 18 and 19 (regarding related parties).

Who Consolidates?

Consolidation of a Voting Interest Entity

Under the ASU, the determination of who controls a limited partnership that is not considered a VIE focuses on the kick-out, liquidation, or participating rights held by the “unrelated“ limited partners. However, because the evaluation of whether the limited partnership is a VIE includes an assessment of whether substantive kick-out or participating rights can be exercised by a simple majority of the “unrelated“ limited partners, a general partner would not consolidate a limited partnership that is not a VIE. Rather, the analysis would focus on whether any of the limited partners should consolidate the partnership. Under the ASU, a limited partner would be required to consolidate a partnership if the limited partner has the substantive ability to unilaterally dissolve the limited partnership or otherwise remove the general partner without cause (as distinguished from with cause). If a limited partner does not have such ability or the other limited partners have substantive participating rights, neither the general partner nor the limited partner is required to consolidate the partnership.

Example 2: Identifying the Primary Beneficiary of a Limited Partnership

A limited partnership is formed to acquire investments in companies in emerging markets. The partnership’s general partner holds a nominal interest in the partnership, and a single unrelated limited partner holds the remaining partnership interests. Profit and losses of the partnership (after payment of general partner fees) are distributed to the limited partner. There are no other arrangements between the partnership and the general partner/limited partner.

The general partner is required to obtain the consent of the limited partner for any acquisitions greater than a certain threshold. In addition, the general partner can be removed without cause by the limited partner.

hu-vol22-issue-17-example-2

The general partner can be removed by a single unrelated limited partner. Provided that the other conditions in ASC 810-10-15-14 are met and the partnership is not considered a VIE, the evaluation would focus on whether the limited partner should consolidate the partnership. In this case, because the limited partner can remove the general partner without cause, the limited partner would consolidate the partnership.

The FASB did not amend the consolidation requirements for corporations (and similar entities) that are not considered VIEs. Accordingly, ownership by a reporting entity, directly or indirectly, of more than 50 percent of the outstanding voting shares of another entity would generally result in consolidation.

Editor’s Note: Historically, many general partners have consolidated limited partnerships that are not VIEs because the limited partners do not have substantive kick-out or participating rights. This would often occur even though the general partner had a relatively insignificant (e.g., 1 percent) economic interest in the partnership. Many of these entities will now be considered VIEs under the ASU (because of the lack of kick-out or participating rights). However, the consolidation analysis under the VIE guidance (including whether the general partner has a variable interest in the VIE) would take into account the general partner’s economic exposure (or lack thereof). Accordingly, the general partner may be required to deconsolidate the limited partnership because the general partner does not have a significant economic interest in the VIE.

Consolidation of a VIE

In a manner consistent with the current guidance, a reporting entity would be considered the primary beneficiary of a VIE under the ASU (and would therefore be required to consolidate the VIE) when it has (1) the power to direct the activities of the VIE that most significantly affect the VIE’s performance (“power“ condition) and (2) the obligation to absorb losses of, or the right to receive benefits from, the VIE that could potentially be significant to the VIE (“economics“ condition). Currently, a reporting entity must consider all of its variable interests, including all fees, when evaluating whether it meets the second requirement. A fee arrangement on its own or in combination with the reporting entity’s other interests (e.g., other investments in the entity) could be sufficient to satisfy this requirement.

Although the ASU does not amend the economic exposure threshold in the current guidance, under the new consolidation requirements, fees paid to a VIE’s decision maker should not be considered in the evaluation of the decision maker’s economic exposure to the VIE regardless of whether the reporting entity has other economic interests in the VIE if the fees are “commensurate“ and “at market.“ Under this new requirement, certain structures that were consolidated as a result of the significance of the fee arrangement would potentially need to be deconsolidated.

Editor’s Note: The exclusion of certain fees from the primary beneficiary analysis under the ASU could significantly affect the consolidation conclusion of many financial institutions. Currently, some entities are required to consolidate certain structures (e.g., CDOs or CLOs) because of the structures’ at-market fee arrangements, which are included in the consolidation analysis.

In addition, under the ASU, when a decision maker evaluates its economic exposure to a VIE as part of its primary beneficiary analysis, it should consider its direct interests in the VIE together with its indirect interests held through its related parties (or de facto agents). However, the effects of an interest held by a related party will be different depending on the relationship with the related party. Specifically, when a decision maker has a variable interest in a related party under common control, the decision maker would include its related party’s entire interest in its evaluation of its economic exposure (see Q&A 18 in Appendix B).

In situations in which a decision maker has a variable interest in a related party that is not under common control, the interests held by the related party would be included in the assessment on a proportionate basis. This approach is illustrated in ASC 810-10-25-42 (as amended by the ASU), which includes the following two examples of this concept:

  • “[I]f the single decision maker owns a 20 percent interest in a related party and that related party owns a 40 percent interest in the entity being evaluated, the single decision maker’s interest would be considered equivalent to an 8 percent direct interest in the VIE for purposes of evaluating the characteristic in paragraph 810-10-25-38A(b) (assuming it has no other relationships with the entity).“
  • “[I]f a decision maker’s employees have a 30 percent interest in the VIE and one third of that interest was financed by the decision maker, then the single decision maker’s interest would be considered equivalent to a 10 percent direct interest in the VIE.“

Editor’s Note: Interests held by the reporting entity’s de facto agent (typically as a result of a one-way transfer restriction) would not be included in the evaluation of whether the decision maker is the VIE’s primary beneficiary (economics condition) if the decision maker does not have economic exposure to the VIE through a variable interest in its de facto agent.

The evaluation of whether a general partner should consolidate a limited partnership that is considered a VIE (e.g., because of a lack of sufficient equity investment at risk) is consistent with that for all other VIEs (i.e., the reporting entity considers the general partner’s power over the VIE and its economic exposure to the VIE). In accordance with the requirements for determining the primary beneficiary of a VIE, the general partner would have the “power“ to direct the activities of the VIE unless a single unrelated variable interest holder has the unilateral ability to remove the general partner. That is, despite the new requirement in ASC 810-10-15-14(b)(1)(ii) that simple majority kick-out rights should be considered in the evaluation of whether a partnership is a VIE, the evaluation of whether the general partner should consolidate a partnership that is considered a VIE would take into account only those kick-out rights that are unilaterally exercisable by a single limited partner (and its related parties). This is consistent with current guidance in ASC 810-10-25-38C. If the general partner also has an interest that could potentially be significant (i.e., under the economics criterion), the general partner would consolidate the partnership.

See Appendix B for additional guidance on assessing the effect of related parties and de facto agents on the consolidation evaluation.

Related-Party Tiebreaker Test (VIEs)

The ASU retains the current requirement that each party in a related-party7 group must first determine whether it has the characteristics of a controlling financial interest (ASC 810-10-25-38A) in a VIE. The ASU also retains the guidance prohibiting parties in a related-party group (including de facto agents) from concluding that they do not individually have these characteristics because they consider the power to be shared among them. If power is considered shared and the related-party group as a whole has the characteristics of a controlling financial interest, the reporting entity must consider the factors in ASC 810-10-25-44 to determine which party in the group must consolidate the VIE (this analysis is commonly referred to as the “related-party tiebreaker test“).

Example 3: Identifying the Primary Beneficiary (Shared Power Between Related Parties)

Two related parties, Enterprise A and Enterprise B, form a joint venture, Entity Z, that is a VIE. All decisions that most significantly affect Z require the consent of both A and B (i.e., the two parties are not responsible for different activities and do not have unilateral discretion for a portion of the activity).

 hu-vol22-issue-17-example-3

Under ASC 810-10-25-38D, power can be shared only among multiple unrelated parties; two or more related parties cannot conclude that power is shared. Since the two venturers in this example are related parties, power cannot be considered shared between them even though they are required to consent to any decisions that are made. Thus, they will need to perform the analysis in ASC 810-10-25-44 (the related-party tiebreaker test) to determine which of them is most closely associated with the VIE and must therefore consolidate the VIE. If A and B were unrelated, neither entity would consolidate the VIE.

If there is a single decision maker, the related-party tiebreaker test would be performed only by parties in the decision maker’s related-party group that are under common control8 and that together possess the characteristics of a controlling financial interest. In this situation, the purpose of the test would be to determine whether the decision maker or a related party under common control of the decision maker is required to consolidate the VIE. This is a significant change from the current consolidation requirements, under which the related-party tiebreaker test must be performed any time a related-party group collectively could exert power over the most significant activities of a VIE and the related-party group meets the economics criterion.

Example 4: Identifying the Primary Beneficiary (Related Parties Under Common Control)

Entity A and Entity B are under common control but do not have ownership interests in each other. Entity A is the general partner (decision maker) for Partnership C but does not own any of the limited partnership interests. Entity B owns 51 percent of C’s limited partner interests. The partnership is considered a VIE.

hu-vol22-issue-17-example-4

When A and B each consider only their own respective interests, neither party individually would have both of the characteristics of a controlling financial interest. Entity A would conclude that (1) it does not have a variable interest on its own (and therefore does not have power) unless the fee arrangement did not meet the commensurate and at-market conditions or (2) C was designed in a manner to circumvent consolidation in the stand-alone financial statement of A or B. In addition, B would conclude that it meets the economics criterion but not the power criterion. Therefore, because A’s fee arrangement is not considered a variable interest, the related-party tiebreaker test would not need to be performed, and neither A nor B would be required to consolidate C in its stand-alone financial statements. However, Parent would be required to consolidate C in its consolidated financial statements because it has both the power (indirectly through A) and economics (indirectly through B).

Note that if A had an explicit or implicit variable interest in B, A’s fee arrangement would be considered a variable interest, and A would be required to consolidate C.

Finally, if neither the decision maker nor a related party under common control is required to consolidate a VIE, but the related-party group (including de facto agents) possesses the characteristics of a controlling financial interest, and substantially all of the VIE’s activities are conducted on behalf of a single entity in the related-party group, that single entity would be the primary beneficiary of the VIE.

Example 5: Identifying the Primary Beneficiary (Substantially All of the Activities Are Performed on Behalf of a Related Party)

An investment manager establishes a fund on behalf of Investor B. The investment manager owns 5 percent of the equity in the fund, and B owns the remaining interests. The investment manager cannot be removed as the decision maker of the fund, and the investment manager cannot sell or liquidate its investment without the consent of B. The fund is considered a VIE. In addition, the investment manager and B are considered related parties (de facto agents).

 hu-vol22-issue-17-example-5

When the investment manager and B each consider only their own respective interests, neither party would be required to consolidate the fund in its stand-alone financial statements. However, under the ASU, B would be required to consolidate the fund because the related-party group possesses the characteristics of a primary beneficiary, and substantially all of the VIE’s activities are conducted on behalf of B. This result is generally consistent with the consolidation conclusion that would be reached as a result of performing the related-party tiebreaker test under current GAAP.

 

Editor’s Note: During the FASB’s external review process for the amendments, some stakeholders expressed concerns about whether the limited partner in certain qualified affordable housing projects that are currently within the scope of ASU 2014-019 would be required to consolidate the limited partnership under the proposed related-party guidance. That is, often the limited partner will have a 99 percent limited partnership interest and, if the partnership is considered a VIE, the limited partner would have been required to consolidate the partnership under the FASB’s tentative decisions. Therefore, such structures would be ineligible to apply the guidance in ASU 2014-01. Consequently, the FASB decided that a limited partner would not be required to consolidate a limited partnership within the scope of ASU 2014-01 solely because substantially all of the activities of the partnership were conducted on behalf of the limited partner. See Q&A 26 in Appendix B for information on the application of ASU 2015-02 to investors in low income housing tax credit partnerships.

See Appendix B for additional guidance on assessing the effect of related parties and de facto agents on the consolidation evaluation.

Elimination of the ASU 2010-10 Deferral

Certain entities (primarily investment companies) currently qualify for the deferral in ASU 2010-10,10 which allows a reporting entity with an interest in these entities to apply the FASB’s consolidation guidance before the application of ASU 2009-17 to determine whether these entities are required to be consolidated. For those VIEs that qualify for the deferral, consolidation is required if the reporting entity absorbs a majority of the VIE’s expected economic exposure or the reporting entity is part of a related- party group that absorbs the majority of the VIE’s expected economic exposure and the reporting entity is the party in that group most closely associated with the VIE. Because ASU 2015-02 eliminates the deferral, an entity that qualified for the deferral must be evaluated under the ASU to determine whether it is a VIE and whether it should be consolidated.

Money Market Funds

The ASU eliminates the deferral in ASU 2010-10 for a reporting entity’s interest in money market funds. Instead of the deferral, ASU 2015-02 includes a scope exception (ASC 810-10-15-12(f)) to the consolidation requirements for a reporting entity’s interest in an entity that is required to comply, or operates in accordance, with requirements that are similar to those in Rule 2a-7 of the 1940 Act for registered money market funds. The ASU clarifies the term “similar“ and requires sponsors of money market funds that qualify for the scope exception to disclose any arrangements to provide support to the fund and whether they have provided any support during the periods presented.

See Appendix B for additional guidance on disclosure considerations.

Convergence With IFRSs

The consolidation project began as a joint effort by the FASB and IASB to develop improved, converged consolidation standards that would apply to all entities (i.e., VIEs, voting interest entities, and investment companies). However, the boards ultimately decided not to converge their guidance on this topic, mainly because of differences regarding control with less than a majority of the voting rights and the consideration of potential voting rights. In May 2011, the IASB issued new and amended guidance on consolidated financial statements, which was effective for annual periods beginning on or after January 1, 2013. For more information, see Deloitte’s May 27, 2011, Heads Up.

Effective Date and Transition

For public business entities, the guidance in ASU 2015-02 is effective for annual periods, and interim periods within those annual periods, beginning after December 15, 2015. For entities other than public business entities, the guidance is effective for annual periods beginning after December 15, 2016, and interim periods beginning after December 15, 2017. Early adoption is allowed for all entities (including during an interim period), but the guidance must be applied as of the beginning of the annual period containing the adoption date. Entities have the option of using either a full retrospective or a modified retrospective adoption approach. In addition, the ASU provides a practicability exception for determining the carrying value of the retained interest in an entity when the reporting entity is required to deconsolidate a legal entity as a result of adopting the guidance. A reporting entity that elects the practicability exception will be allowed to use fair value to initially measure its retained interest.

Editor’s Note: A company that wants to early adopt the ASU may have determined that it did not have sufficient time to reevaluate all of its previous consolidation conclusions before the deadline for its prior-quarter SEC Form 10-Q filings. In this situation, the ASU allows a company to adopt the revised requirements in a subsequent quarter (e.g., its quarter ending December 31, 2015) provided that the entity does so as of the beginning of the annual period. For example, the statement of operations for the fourth quarter would reflect the company’s results as though it had adopted the revised requirements at the beginning of the first quarter (January 1, 2015). Entities should consider whether they would be required to revise the information in their prior-quarter filings if, for example, they are undergoing the registration process.

See Appendix B for additional guidance on transition considerations.

 

Appendix A — Flowchart of the Consolidation Analysis Under ASC 810-10

Please see Appendix A in the attached PDF.

Appendix B — Interpretive Guidance

Please see Appendix B in the attached PDF.

Appendix C — Comparison of Consolidation Requirements Under ASU 2009-17 and ASU 2015-02

Please see Appendix C in the attached PDF.

Appendix D — Comparison of Consolidation Requirements Under FIN 46(R) and ASU 2015-02

Please see Appendix D in the attached PDF.

 

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1 FASB Accounting Standards Update No. 2015-02, Amendments to the Consolidation Analysis.

2 For titles of FASB Accounting Standards Codification (ASC) references, see Deloitte’s “Titles of Topics and Subtopics in the FASB Accounting Standards Codification.“

3 FASB Accounting Standards Update No. 2009-17, Improvements to Financial Reporting by Enterprises Involved With Variable Interest Entities.

4 ASC 810-10-15-14 indicates that an entity is a VIE if any of the following conditions exist:

  • The entity has insufficient equity at risk to finance its activities.
  • The equity holders (as a group) lack any of the three characteristics of a controlling financial interest.
  • Members of the equity group have nonsubstantive voting rights.

5 Partnerships in the extractive and construction industries that are accounted for under the pro rata method of consolidation would not be considered VIEs solely because the limited partners do not have kick-out or participating rights.

6 Although participation rights must also be considered, we do not believe that such rights have the same impact on the VIE determination as kick-out rights in this context.

7 The term “related parties“ includes those parties identified as related parties in ASC 850 and certain other parties described in ASC 810-10-25-43 that are considered de facto agents of the reporting entity.

8 Paragraph BC69 of the Basis for Conclusions of ASU 2015-02 indicates that entities considered under common control include “subsidiaries controlled (directly or indirectly) by a common parent, or a subsidiary and its parent.“

9 FASB Accounting Standards Update No. 2014-01, Accounting for Investments in Qualified Affordable Housing Projects — a consensus of the FASB Emerging Issues Task Force.

10 FASB Accounting Standards Update No. 2010-10, Amendments for Certain Investment Funds.

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