The IFRS Interpretations Committee (Committee) discussed the following matter and tentatively decided not to add it to its standard-setting agenda. The Committee will reconsider this tentative decision, including the reasons for not adding the matter to its standard-setting agenda, at a future meeting. The Committee invites comments on its tentative agenda decision. All comments will be on the public record and posted on our website unless a responder requests confidentiality and we grant that request. We do not normally grant such requests unless they are supported by good reason, for example, commercial confidence.

Tentative agenda decision

The Committee received a request about reverse factoring arrangements. Specifically, the request asked:

  • how an entity presents liabilities to which reverse factoring arrangements relate (ie how it presents liabilities to pay for goods or services received when the related invoices are part of a reverse factoring arrangement); and
  • what information about reverse factoring arrangements an entity is required to disclose in its financial statements.

In a reverse factoring arrangement, a financial institution agrees to pay amounts an entity owes to the entity’s suppliers and the entity agrees to pay the financial institution at a date later than suppliers are paid.

Presentation in the statement of financial position

IAS 1 Presentation of Financial Statements specifies requirements for the presentation of liabilities in an entity’s statement of financial position. Paragraph 54 requires an entity to present ‘trade and other payables’ separately from other financial liabilities. ‘Trade and other payables’ are sufficiently different in nature or function from other financial liabilities to warrant separate presentation (paragraph 57 of IAS 1).

Paragraph 11(a) of IAS 37 Provisions, Contingent Liabilities and Contingent Assets states that ‘trade payables are liabilities to pay for goods or services that have been received or supplied and have been invoiced or formally agreed with the supplier’. Paragraph 70 of IAS 1 explains that ‘some current liabilities, such as trade payables… are part of the working capital used in the entity’s normal operating cycle’. The Committee therefore concluded that an entity presents a financial liability as a trade payable only when it:

  • represents a liability to pay for goods or services;
  • is invoiced or formally agreed with the supplier; and
  • is part of the working capital used in the entity’s normal operating cycle.

Paragraph 29 of IAS 1 requires an entity to ‘present separately items of a dissimilar nature or function unless they are immaterial’. Paragraph 57 specifies that line items are included in the statement of financial position when the size, nature or function of an item (or aggregation of similar items) is such that separate presentation is relevant to an understanding of the entity’s financial position. Accordingly, the Committee concluded that, applying IAS 1, an entity presents:

  • other payables together with trade payables only when those other payables have a similar nature and function to trade payables—for example, when other payables are part of the working capital used in the entity’s normal operating cycle.
  • liabilities that are part of a reverse factoring arrangement separately when the size, nature or function of those liabilities makes separate presentation relevant to an understanding of the entity’s financial position. In assessing whether to present such liabilities separately (including whether to disaggregate trade and other payables), an entity considers the amounts, nature and timing of those liabilities (paragraphs 55 and 58 of IAS 1).

The Committee observed that an entity assessing whether to present liabilities that are part of a reverse factoring arrangement separately might consider factors including, for example:

  • whether additional security is provided as part of the arrangement that would not be provided without the arrangement.
  • whether the terms of liabilities that are part of the arrangement are substantially different from the terms of the entity’s trade payables that are not part of the arrangement.

Derecognition of a financial liability

An entity assesses whether and when to derecognise a liability that is (or becomes) part of a reverse factoring arrangement applying the derecognition requirements in IFRS 9 Financial Instruments.

An entity that derecognises a trade payable to a supplier and recognises a new financial liability to a financial institution applies IAS 1 in determining how to present that new liability in its statement of financial position (see ‘Presentation in the statement of financial position’).

Presentation in the statement of cash flows

Paragraph 6 of IAS 7 Statement of Cash Flows defines:

  • operating activities as ‘the principal revenue-producing activities of the entity and other activities that are not investing or financing activities’; and
  • financing activities as ‘activities that result in changes in the size and composition of the contributed equity and borrowings of the entity’.

An entity that has entered into a reverse factoring arrangement determines whether to classify cash flows under the arrangement as cash flows from operating activities or cash flows from financing activities. The Committee observed that an entity’s assessment of the nature of the liabilities that are part of the arrangement may help in determining the nature of the related cash flows as arising from operating or financing activities. For example, if the entity considers the related liability to be a trade or other payable that is part of the working capital used in the entity’s principal revenue-producing activities, the entity presents cash outflows to settle the liability as arising from operating activities in its statement of cash flows. In contrast, if the entity considers that the related liability is not a trade or other payable because the liability represents borrowings of the entity, the entity presents cash outflows to settle the liability as arising from financing activities in its statement of cash flows.

Investing and financing transactions that do not require the use of cash or cash equivalents are excluded from an entity’s statement of cash flows (paragraph 43 of IAS 7). Consequently, if a cash inflow and cash outflow occur for an entity when an invoice is factored as part of a reverse factoring arrangement, the entity presents those cash flows in its statement of cash flows. If no cash flows are involved in a financing transaction of an entity, the entity discloses the transaction elsewhere in the financial statements in a way that provides all the relevant information about the financing activity (paragraph 43 of IAS 7).

Notes to the financial statements

Paragraph 44A of IAS 7 requires an entity to provide ‘disclosures that enable users of financial statements to evaluate changes in liabilities arising from financing activities, including both changes arising from cash flows and non-cash changes’. The Committee noted that such disclosure is required for liabilities that are part of a reverse factoring arrangement if the cash flows for those liabilities were, or future cash flows will be, classified as cash flows from financing activities.

IFRS 7 Financial Instruments: Disclosures defines liquidity risk as ‘the risk that an entity will encounter difficulty in meeting obligations associated with financial liabilities that are settled by delivering cash or another financial asset’. The Committee observed that reverse factoring arrangements often give rise to liquidity risk because:

  • the entity has concentrated a portion of its liabilities with one financial institution rather than a diverse group of suppliers. The entity may also obtain other sources of funding from the financial institution providing the reverse factoring arrangement. If the entity were to encounter any difficulty in meeting its obligations, such a concentration would increase the risk that the entity may have to pay a significant amount, at one time, to one counterparty.
  • some suppliers may have become accustomed to, or reliant on, earlier payment of their trade receivables under the reverse factoring arrangement. If the financial institution were to withdraw the reverse factoring arrangement, those suppliers could demand shorter credit terms. Shorter credit terms could affect the entity’s ability to settle liabilities, particularly if the entity were already in financial distress.

Paragraphs 33-35 of IFRS 7 require an entity to disclose how exposures to risk arising from financial instruments including liquidity risk arise, the entity’s objectives, policies and processes for managing the risk, summary quantitative data about the entity’s exposure to liquidity risk at the end of the reporting period (including further information if this data is unrepresentative of the entity’s exposure to liquidity risk during the period), and concentrations of risk. Paragraphs 39 and B11F of IFRS 7 specify further requirements and factors an entity might consider in providing liquidity risk disclosures.

An entity applies judgement in determining whether to provide additional disclosures in the notes about the effect of reverse factoring arrangements on its financial position, financial performance and cash flows. The Committee observed that:

  • assessing how to present liabilities and cash flows related to reverse factoring arrangements may involve judgement. An entity discloses judgements that management has made in this respect if they are among the judgements made that have the most significant effect on the amounts recognised in the financial statements (paragraph 122 of IAS 1).
  • reverse factoring arrangements may have a material effect on an entity’s financial statements. An entity provides information about reverse factoring arrangements in its financial statements to the extent that such information is relevant to an understanding of any of those financial statements (paragraph 112 of IAS 1).

The Committee noted that making materiality judgements involves both quantitative and qualitative considerations.

The Committee concluded that the principles and requirements in IFRS Standards provide an adequate basis for an entity to determine the presentation of liabilities that are part of reverse factoring arrangements, the presentation of the related cash flows, and the information to disclose in the notes about, for example, liquidity risks that arise in such arrangements. Consequently, the Committee [decided] not to add these matters to its standard-setting agenda. 

The deadline for commenting on the proposals is 30 September 2020. The Committee will consider all comments received in writing by that date; agenda papers analysing comments received will include analysis only of comments received by that date.

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