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Desk top survey on the recognition of intangible assets and scale of acquisition activity

IAASA, Ireland’s accounting enforcer, has today published the results of a desk top survey into the nature of intangible assets recognised by Irish equity issuers in their statements of financial position (balance sheets) and the scale of acquisition activity undertaken by those issuers as recognised in their 2015 financial reports. The survey covered the 2015/16 financial statements of twenty-eight entities listed on the Stock Exchange.

The document is available here.


Financial reporting standards (IAS 38 Intangible assets) define an intangible asset as identifiable non-monetary asset without physical substance (e.g. computer software, licenses). An intangible asset is identifiable if it is either separable, that is, it could be sold separately from the business, or it arises from contractual or other legal rights regardless of whether or not it is separable.

Key survey results

IAASA’s desk top survey identified:

  1. eighteen different types of intangible assets recognised by issuers amounting to €5.7bn (2014/15 €4.2bn);

  1. the total amortisation charge against intangible assets amounted to €635m (2014/15: €528);

  1. the highest value intangible assets are customer relationships, brands and computer software, which together comprise 87% of all intangible assets recognised by the issuers included in this survey;

  1. eleven issuers had acquisition activity during 2015/16 (2014/15:14); and

  1. €18.6bn (2014/15:€14bn) of cumulative goodwill is recognised in issuers’ statement of financial positions.  

Directors and Audit Committees are reminded to:

  1. give careful consideration to the key judgements applied in the recognition and measurement of the fair value of intangible assets, together with the disclosures related to same; and

  1. closely examine the basis upon which intangible assets acquired in a business combination are recognised and measured.