SPAC Merger under IFRS 3

SPAC Merger

Private operating companies seeking a ‘fast track’ stock exchange listing sometimes arrange to be acquired by a smaller listed company (sometimes described as a ‘shell’ company or Special Purpose Acquisition Company or SPAC that is also a ‘shell’ company, especially incorporated (and listed) to serve a reverse acquisition/SPAC Merger). This usually involves the listed company issuing its shares to the private company shareholders in exchange for their shares.

The listed company becomes the ‘legal parent’ of the operating company, which in turn becomes the ‘legal subsidiary’.

A transaction in which a company with substantial operations (‘operating company’) arranges to be acquired by a listed shell company should be analysed to determine if it is a business combination within the scope of IFRS 3.

US GAAP comparison

The registering of securities that are issued by a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) — A Form S-1 may be used for the initial registration and sale of shares of a SPAC, a newly formed company that will use the proceeds from the IPO to acquire a private operating company (which generally has not been identified at the time of the IPO). To complete the acquisition of a private operating company, the SPAC may file a proxy or registration statement. Within four days of the closing of the acquisition of the private operating company, the SPAC must file a “super Form 8-K” that includes all of the information required in a Form 10 registration statement of the private operating company.

Is the transaction a business combination?

Answering this question involves determining:

  • which company is the ‘accounting acquirer’ under IFRS 3, ie the company that obtains effective control over the other
  • whether or not the acquired company (ie the ‘accounting acquiree’ under IFRS 3) is a business.

In these transactions, the pre-combination shareholders of the operating company typically obtain a majority (controlling) interest, with the pre-combination shareholders of the listed shell company retaining a minority (non-controlling) interest (i.e. a SPAC Merger). This usually indicates that the operating company is the accounting acquirer.

If the listed company is the accounting acquiree, the next step is to determine whether it is a ‘business’ as defined in IFRS 3. In general, the listed company is not a business if its activities are limited to managing cash balances and filing obligations. Further analysis will be needed if the listed company undertakes other activities and holds other assets and liabilities. Determining whether the listed company is a business in these more complex situations typically requires judgement.

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M and A

M and A or Mergers and Acquisitions

in IFRS language Business Combinations.

1 Identifying a business combination

IFRS 3 refers to a ‘business combination’ rather than more commonly used phrases such as takeover, acquisition or merger because the objective is to encompass all the transactions in which an acquirer obtains control over an acquiree no matter how the transaction is structured. A business combination is defined as a transaction or other event in which an acquirer (an investor entity) obtains control of one or more businesses.

An entity’s purchase of a controlling interest in another unrelated operating entity will usually be a business combination (see Simple case – Straightforward business combination below). However, a business combination (M and A) may be structured, and an entity may obtain control of that structure, in a variety of ways.

Examples of business combinations structurings

Examples of ways an entity may obtain control

A business becomes the subsidiary of an acquirer

The entity transfers cash, cash equivalents or other assets(including net assets that constitute a business)

Net assets of one or more businesses are legally merged with an acquirer

The entity incurs liabilities

One combining entity transfers its net assets, or its owners transfer their equity interests, to another combining entity or its owners

The entity issues shares

The entity transfers more than one type of consideration, or

Two or more entities transfer their net assets, or the owners of those entities transfer their equity interests to a newly created entity, which in exchange issues shares, or

The entity does not transfer consideration and obtains control for example by contract alone Some examples of this:

  • ‘dual listed companies’ or ‘stapled entity structures’
  • acquiree repurchases a sufficient number of its own shares for an existing shareholder to obtain control
  • a condition in the shareholder agreement that prevents the majority shareholder exercising control of the entity has expired, or
  • a call option over a controlling interest that becomes exercisable.

A group of former owners of one of the combining entities obtains control of the combined entity, i.e. former owners, as a group, retain control of the entity they previously owned.

Therefore, identifying a business combination transaction requires the determination of whether:

  • what is acquired constitutes a ‘business’ as defined in IFRS3, and
  • control has been obtained.

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Disclosure financial assets and liabilities

Disclosure financial assets and liabilities

– provides a narrative providing guidance on users of financial statements’ needs to present financial disclosures in the notes to the financial statements grouped in more logical orders. But there is and never will be a one-size fits all.

Here it has been decided to separately disclose financial assets and liabilities and non-financial assets and liabilities, because of the distinct different nature of these classes of assets and liabilities and the resulting different types of disclosures, risks and tabulations.

Disclosure financial assets and liabilities guidance

Disclosing financial assets and liabilities (financial instruments) in one note

Users of financial reports have indicated that they would like to be able to quickly access all of the information about the entity’s financial assets and liabilities in one location in the financial report. The notes are therefore structured such that financial items and non-financial items are discussed separately. However, this is not a mandatory requirement in the accounting standards.

Accounting policies, estimates and judgements

For readers of Financial Statements it is helpful if information about accounting policies that are specific to the entityDisclosure financial assets and liabilitiesand about significant estimates and judgements is disclosed with the relevant line items, rather than in separate notes. However, this format is also not mandatory. For general commentary regarding the disclosures of accounting policies refer to note 25. Commentary about the disclosure of significant estimates and judgements is provided in note 11.

Scope of accounting standard for disclosure of financial instruments

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IFRS 7 does not apply to the following items as they are not financial instruments as defined in paragraph 11 of IAS 32:

  1. prepayments made (right to receive future good or service, not cash or a financial asset)
  2. tax receivables and payables and similar items (statutory rights or obligations, not contractual), or
  3. contract liabilities (obligation to deliver good or service, not cash or financial asset).

While contract assets are also not financial assets, they are explicitly included in the scope of IFRS 7 for the purpose of the credit risk disclosures. Liabilities for sales returns and volume discounts (see note 7(f)) may be considered financial liabilities on the basis that they require payments to the customer. However, they should be excluded from financial liabilities if the arrangement is executory. the Reporting entity Plc determined this to be the case. [IFRS 7.5A]

Classification of preference shares

Preference shares must be analysed carefully to determine if they contain features that cause the instrument not to meet the definition of an equity instrument. If such shares meet the definition of equity, the entity may elect to carry them at FVOCI without recycling to profit or loss if not held for trading.

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High level overview IFRS 3 Business Combinations

HIGH LEVEL OVERVIEW IFRS 3 BUSINESS COMBINATIONS

A summary on one page and more detail for reference

The overview

Scope & Identifying a business combination
A business combination is:
Transaction or event in which acquirer obtains control over a business (e.g. of shares or net assets, legal Read more

IFRS 10 Special control approach

IFRS 10 Special control approach

– determines which entities are consolidated in a parent’s financial statements and therefore affects a group’s reported results, cash flows and financial position – and the activities that are ‘on’ and ‘off’ the group’s balance sheet. Under IFRS, this control assessment is accounted for in accordance with IFRS 10 ‘Consolidated financial statements’.

Some of the challenges of applying the IFRS 10 Special control approach include:

  • identifying the investee’s returns, which in turn involves identifying its assets and liabilities. This may appear straightforward but complications arise when the legal ownership of assets diverges from the accounting depiction (for example, in financial asset transfers that ‘fail’ de-recognition, and in finance leases). In general, the assessment of the investee’s assets and returns should be consistent with the accounting depiction in accordance with IFRS
  • it may not always be clear whether contracts and other arrangements between an investor and an investee
    • create rights or exposure to a variable return from the investee’s performance for the investor; or
    • transfer risk or variability from the investor to the investee IFRS 10 Special control approach
  • the relevant activities of an SPE may not be obvious, especially when its activities have been narrowly specified in its purpose and design IFRS 10 Special control approach
  • the rights to direct those activities might also be difficult to identify, because for example, they arise only in particular circumstances or from contracts that are outside the legal boundary of the SPE (but closely related to its activities).

IFRS 10 Special control approach sets out requirements for how to apply the control principle in less straight forward circumstances, which are detailed below:  IFRS 10 Special control approach

  • when voting rights or similar rights give an investor power, including situations where the investor holds less than a majority of voting rights and in circumstances involving potential voting rights
  • when an investee is designed so that voting rights are not the dominant factor in deciding who controls the investee, such as when any voting rights relate to administrative tasks only and the relevant activities are directed by means of contractual arrangements IFRS 10 Special control approach
  • involving agency relationships IFRS 10 Special control approach
  • when the investor has control only over specified assets of an investee
  • franchises. IFRS 10 Special control approach

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IFRS 2 Fair value of equity instruments granted

IFRS 2 Fair value of equity instruments granted – Share-based payment transactions with employees are measured with reference to the fair value of the equity instruments granted (IFRS 2.11).

The fair value of a equity instrument granted is determined as follows (IFRS 2.16-17):

  • If market prices are available for the actual equity instruments granted – i.e. shares or share options with the same terms and conditions – then the estimate of fair value is based on these market prices. IFRS 2 Fair value of equity instruments granted
  • If market prices are not available for the equity instruments granted, then the fair value of equity instruments granted is estimated using a valuation technique.

IFRS 2 (IFRS Read more

Overview IFRS 10 Consolidated Financial Statements

Overview IFRS 10 Consolidated Financial StatementsShort – To establish principles for the presentation and preparation of consolidated financial statements when an entity controls one or more other entities Overview IFRS 10 Consolidated Financial Statements

Longer – IFRS 10 replaces the part of IAS 27 Consolidated and Separate Financial Statements that addresses accounting for subsidiaries on consolidation. What remains in IAS 27 after the implementation of IFRS 10 is the accounting treatment for subsidiaries, jointly controlled entities and associates in their separate financial statements.Contingent consideration Contingent consideration Contingent consideration Contingent consideration Contingent consideration

The aim of IFRS 10 is to establish a single control model that is applied to all entities including special purpose entities. The changes require those dealing with the implementation of IFRS 10 to exercise Read more

Consolidated financial statements

The financial statements of a group in which the assets, liabilities, equity, income, expenses and cash flows of the parent and its subsidiaries are presented as those of a single economic entity. The detailed ‘mechanics’ of the consolidation process vary from one group to another, depending on the group’s structure, history and financial reporting systems. IFRS 10 and much of the literature on consolidation are based on a traditional approach to consolidation under which the financial statements (or, more commonly in practice, group ‘reporting packs’) of group entities are aggregated and then adjusted on each reporting date.

US GAAP vs IFRS Consolidations at-a-glance

US GAAP vs IFRS Consolidations at-a-glance – IFRS provides indicators of control, some of which individually determine the need to consolidate. However, where control is not apparent, consolidation is based on an overall assessment of all of the relevant facts, including the allocation of risks and benefits between the parties. The indicators provided under IFRS help the reporting entity in making that assessment. Consolidation in financial statements is required under IFRS when an entity is exposed to variable returns from another entity and has the ability to affect those returns through its power over the other entity. US GAAP vs IFRS Consolidations at-a-glance

US GAAP has a two-tier consolidation model: one focused on voting rights (the voting interest model) and … Read more