IASB user survey on debt disclosures

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23 Jan 2014

The International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) has released a survey of investors and analysts to gather information about the usefulness of disclosures regarding debt, including changes in an entity's debt position. The survey results will assist the IASB in deciding whether to undertake a project on debt disclosures.

The possible need for International Financial Reporting Standards to include a disclosure requirement for a net debt reconciliation arose from the feedback from the disclosure forum and had earlier been considered in the financial statement presentation project. In the Feedback Statement from the disclosure forum, the IASB noted the following:

Over the last five years investors have consistently asked the IASB to introduce a requirement that entities must disclose and explain their net debt reconciliation. This is an example where users think that adding a requirement might reduce clutter by specifying about how debt information should be disclosed.

At its October 2013 meeting, the IASB discussed the possibility of including disclosures about 'net debt' as part of possible short term amendments to IAS 1 Presentation of Financial Statements. The IASB decided not to include any proposals on net debt in the short-term amendments to IAS 1, but instead consider this matter separately within another part of the IASB's overall disclosure initiative project. As this meeting, IASB members also noted a possible need for transparency about cash, any restrictions on cash, and tax effects on cash.

Following on from these discussions, the publication survey responds to constituent feedback from investors and analysts "that they would like more information about period-on-period changes in debt to be included in audited financial statements" and is designed to assist the IASB in identifying specific information needs and how the information is used.

The survey explores topics such as:

  • Whether investors and analysts consider debt in the analysis of an entity and how such information is used
  • Whether understanding the reasons for period-on-period movements in debt is important, and if so, whether analysis is undertaken on total debt, key components, or both, and whether non-cash movements are considered
  • Feedback on the adequacy of information currently provided by entities and where information about debt should be provided (e.g. management commentary, financial statements, presentations)
  • Whether debt should be defined in IFRS, even if this increased the complexity and timeline of any possible IASB project
  • Experience with significant restrictions and/or cost to an entity from an ability to access or move cash, where such information is currently derived if available, and whether this aspect should be considered in any project

The survey includes a table illustrating a possible period-on-period movement in debt (noting that this is not currently specifically required by IFRS), which is reproduced below:


Movement in debt (in millions) 2012 2011
At 1 January 7,905 6,525
Exchange adjustments -25 75
Net cash flow 385 -295
Changes in finance leases 235 1,600
Debt assumed from acquisitions 755 -
At 31 December 9,255 7,905

The survey closes on 21 February 2014 and can be accessed on the Investor resources page on the IASB's website.

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