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Leases

Date recorded:

The Board discussed in detail the revised project plan. The staff noted that the revised project approach takes into account the 'mid-2011 completion goal' discussed at the April 2008 joint Board meeting for projects that are part of the Memorandum of Understanding between the IASB and FASB (MoU).

The key proposals of the revised project approach were to:

  • address lessee accounting and defer consideration of lessor accounting,
  • apply the current finance lease model to leases currently classified as operating leases, which means that the current finance lease model will be applied to all leases, and
  • remove the requirement for lessees to classify leases as finance leases or operating leases.

In addition, the staff presented analyses on the following issues that arise if the current finance lease model is applied to operating leases:

  • options to extend or terminate a lease,
  • contingent rentals, and
  • initial and subsequent measurement of the lessee's asset and liability under the lease.

Several Board members expressed their disappointment that lessor accounting was scoped out but acknowledged that the time constraints make it impossible to address both lessee and lessor accounting. Some Board members stated that lessor accounting should not disappear from the IASB's agenda but should be addressed in a subsequent phase of this project.

By majority vote the Board agreed to the revised project plan in full.

Some Board members noted that residual value guarantees and the nature of the right-to-use asset should also be addressed in the discussion paper. The staff responded that residual value guarantees will addressed at the exposure draft stage and that issues regarding the right-to-use asset will be addressed in the discussion paper.

The Board then started its deliberations on the technical issues that arise if the current finance lease model is applied to operating leases.

Options to extend or terminate a lease

Without detailed discussion the Board decided that options to extend or terminate the lease should not be recognised separately from the right of use asset but that the assets and liabilities recognised by the lessee should be based upon an assessment of the lease term.

The Board did come to a conclusion on how the lease term should be assessed. The discussion was based on an example of a five-year lease that incorporates an option to extend the lease for an additional three years. Some Board members favoured a probability weighted approach, i.e. if the probability that the lease will be extended is 50% the estimated lease term would be 6.5 years. Other Board members disagreed to this approach since there would be no continuous range of possible outcomes. In addition, Board members expressed mixed views on whether the estimated lease term should be trued up on a regular basis. The issue was pushed back to staff for further elaboration. However, there was a consensus that all contractual, non-contractual financial and business factors should be taken into consideration when determining the lease term. The Board also decided that any new lease accounting standard should provide detailed guidance on the factors to be considered.

Contingent rentals

The Board decided not to retain the current accounting treatment for contingent rentals but to estimate contingent rentals at inception of the lease. Also the Board decided that the best estimate of contingent rentals determined in accordance with the methodology in IAS 37 Provisions, Contingent Liabilities and Contingent Assets should be used.

The FASB staff informed the Board that the FASB tentatively decided to also have an upfront estimate of contingent rentals but to use the most likely outcome when determining contingent rentals.

Initial and subsequent measurement of the lessee's asset and liability under the lease

The Board made the following decisions:

  • The lessee's right-to-use asset should be initially measured at the present value of the 'expected lease payments'. The Board noted that the expected lease payments differ from minimum lease payments if they include contingent rentals.
  • Accordingly, the lessee's liability should be initially measured at the expected lease payments.
  • The discount rate used in calculating the expected lease payments should be the secured incremental borrowing rate.
  • The payments for the lessee's liability should be apportioned between a finance charge and a reduction of the outstanding liability, consistent with the treatment of finance leases currently in place.

Regarding the subsequent measurement of the right-of-use asset the staff recommended allocating the depreciable amount on a systematic basis consistent with the depreciation policy the lessee adopts for depreciable assets that are owned. The right-of-use asset would be depreciated over the shorter of the lease term or the economic life of the leased item and for leases of items in which it is reasonably certain that the lessee will obtain title at the end of the lease term, the 'period of expected use' would be the economic life of the leased item. The staff noted that this recommendation is consistent with the current finance lease accounting model and is consistent with the basic approach to the project.

The Board seemed to agree. However, one Board member strongly demanded that further research work on the nature of the right-to-use asset should be undertaken before answering this question.

Lease classification

The Board decided to remove the requirement for lessees to classify leases as operating or finance and to develop a single model of accounting for all lease contracts.

Way forward

The Board intends to publish a discussion paper in November 2008.

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