Note 1: Summary of significant accounting policies

General information

Akzo Nobel N.V. is a company headquartered in the Netherlands. The address of our registered office is Strawinskylaan 2555, Amsterdam. We have filed (PDF:) a list of subsidiaries, associated companies and joint ventures, drawn up in conformity with sections 379 and 414 of Book 2 of the Netherlands Civil Code, with the Trade Registry of Amsterdam.

We have prepared the Consolidated financial statements of Akzo Nobel N.V. in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) as adopted by the European Union. They also comply with the financial reporting requirements included in Section 9 of Book 2 of the Netherlands Civil Code, as far as applicable.

On February 11, 2015, the Board of Management authorized the financial statements for issue. The financial statements as presented in this report are subject to adoption by the Annual General Meeting of shareholders.

Consolidation

The Consolidated financial statements include the accounts of Akzo Nobel N.V. and its subsidiaries. Subsidiaries are companies over which Akzo Nobel N.V. has control, because it is exposed, or has rights, to variable returns from its involvement with the subsidiary and has the ability to affect returns through its power over the subsidiary. Non-controlling interests in equity and in results are presented separately.

Change in accounting policies

Consolidation

IFRS 10 “Consolidated Financial Statements”, effective January 1, 2014, introduced an amended concept of control to determine whether an investee should be consolidated. This standard did not affect our scope of consolidation.

Joint arrangements

Under IFRS 11 “Joint Arrangements”, effective January 1, 2014, the interest in a joint arrangement has to be classified as either a joint operation (if the investor has rights to the assets and the obligations for liabilities relating to the arrangement) or a joint venture (if the investor has rights only to the net assets of the arrangement). This standard did not affect our Consolidated financial statements.

Disclosure of interests in other entities

As a result of IFRS 12 “Disclosure of Interests in Other Entities”, effective January 1, 2014, we have expanded the disclosures about our non-controlling interests in subsidiaries (Note 14) and equity-accounted investees (Note 9), when necessary.

Other changes

Other accounting pronouncements, which became effective for 2014, had no material impact on our Consolidated financial statements.

Discontinued operations (Note 2)

A discontinued operation is a component of our business that represents a separate major line of business or geographical area of operations that has been disposed of or is held for sale, or is a subsidiary acquired exclusively with a view to resale. Assets and liabilities are classified as held for sale if it is highly probable that the carrying value will be recovered through a sale transaction within one year rather than through continuing use. When reclassifying assets and liabilities as held for sale, we recognize the assets and liabilities at the lower of their carrying value or fair value less selling costs. Assets held for sale are not depreciated but tested for impairment.

Use of estimates

The preparation of the financial statements in compliance with IFRS requires management to make judgments, estimates and assumptions that affect amounts reported in the financial statements. The estimates and assumptions are based on experience and various other factors that are believed to be reasonable under the circumstances and are used to judge the carrying values of assets and liabilities that are not readily apparent from other sources. The estimates and underlying assumptions are reviewed on an ongoing basis. The most critical accounting policies involving a higher degree of judgment and complexity in applying principles of valuation and for which changes in the assumptions and estimates could result in significantly different results than those recorded in the financial statements are the following:

  • Scope of consolidation (Note 2)
  • Income tax and deferred tax assets (Note 6)
  • Impairment of intangible assets and property, plant and equipment (Note 7, 8)
  • Post-retirement benefits (Note 15)
  • Provisions (Note 16)

Statement of cash flows

We have used the indirect method to prepare the statement of cash flows. Cash flows in foreign currencies have been translated at transaction rates. Acquisitions or divestments of subsidiaries are presented net of cash and cash equivalents acquired or disposed of, respectively. Cash flows from derivatives are recognized in the statement of cash flows in the same category as those of the hedged items.

Operating segments

We determine and present operating segments (“Business Areas”) on the information that is provided to the Executive Committee, our chief operating decision maker during 2014, to make decisions about resources to be allocated to the Business Area and assess its performance. Business Area results reported to the Executive Committee include items directly attributable to a Business Area as well as those items that can be allocated on a reasonable basis. Unallocated items comprise mainly corporate assets and corporate costs and are reported in Business Area “Corporate and other”.

Foreign currencies

Transactions in foreign currencies are translated into the functional currency using the foreign exchange rate at transaction date. Monetary assets and liabilities denominated in foreign currencies are translated into the functional currency using the exchange rates at the balance sheet date. Resulting foreign currency differences are included in the statement of income. Non-monetary assets and liabilities denominated in foreign currencies are translated into the functional currency at the exchange rate at acquisition date.

The assets and liabilities of entities with other functional currencies are translated into euros, the functional currency of the parent entity, using the exchange rates at the balance sheet date. The income and expenses of entities with other functional currencies are translated into the functional currency, using the exchange rates at transaction date.

Foreign exchange differences resulting from translation into the functional currency of investments in subsidiaries and of intercompany loans of a permanent nature with other functional currencies are recorded as a separate component (cumulative translation reserves) within Other comprehensive income. These cumulative translation adjustments are reclassified (either fully or partly) to the statement of income upon disposal (either fully or partly) or liquidation of the foreign subsidiary to which the investment or the intercompany loan with a permanent nature relates to.

Foreign currency differences arising on the re-translation of a financial liability designated as an effective hedge of a net investment in a foreign operation are recognized in the cumulative translation reserves (in Other comprehensive income).

Exchange rates of key currencies

The principal exchange rates against the euro used in preparing the balance sheet and the statement of income are:

 

 

Balance sheet

 

Statement of income

 

 

2013

 

2014

 

2013

 

2014

US dollar

 

1.378

 

1.216

 

1.328

 

1.329

Pound sterling

 

0.834

 

0.780

 

0.850

 

0.806

Swedish krona

 

8.836

 

9.399

 

8.647

 

9.099

Chinese yuan

 

8.399

 

7.561

 

8.209

 

8.199

Revenue recognition

Revenue is defined as the revenue from the sale and delivery of goods and services and royalty income, net of rebates, discounts and similar allowances, and net of sales tax. Revenue is recognized when the significant risks and rewards have been transferred to a third party, recovery of the consideration is probable, the associated costs and possible return of goods can be estimated reliably and there is no continuing management involvement with the goods. For revenue from sales of goods these conditions are generally met at the time the product is shipped and delivered to the customer, depending on the delivery conditions. Service revenue is generally recognized as services are rendered.

Post-retirement benefits (Note 4, 15)

Contributions to defined contribution plans are recognized in the statement of income as incurred.

Most of our defined benefit pension plans are funded with plan assets that have been segregated in a trust or foundation. In certain countries we also provide post-retirement benefits other than pensions to our employees and these plans are generally not funded. Valuations of both funded and unfunded plans are carried out by independent actuaries based on the projected unit credit method. Post-retirement costs primarily represent the increase in the actuarial present value of the obligation for projected benefits based on employee service during the year and the interest on this obligation with respect to employee service in previous years, net of the expected return on plan assets, if any. When the calculation results in a benefit to AkzoNobel, the recognized asset is limited to the present value of economic benefits available in the form of any future refunds from the plan or reductions in future contributions to the plan. An economic benefit is available if it is realizable during the life of the plan, or on the settlement of the plan liabilities. The effect of these so-called asset ceiling restrictions and any changes therein, is recognized in Other comprehensive income.

Actuarial gains and losses, which arise in calculating our obligation with reference to a plan, are recognized in Other comprehensive income. When the benefits of a plan improve, the portion of the increased benefits related to past service by employees is recognized as an expense in the statement of income immediately. We recognize gains and losses on the curtailment or settlement of a defined benefit plan when the curtailment or settlement occurs.

Interest on the defined benefit obligations net of the return on plan assets is included in financing expenses related to pensions. Other charges and benefits recognized are reported in Operating income, in as far as they are not recorded in Other comprehensive income.

Other employee benefits (Note 4, 16)

Provisions for other long-term employee benefits are measured at present value, using actuarial assumptions and methods. Any actuarial gains and losses are recognized in the statement of income in the period in which they arise.

Share-based compensation (Note 4)

We have a performance-related share plan, under which shares are conditionally granted to certain employees. The fair value is measured at grant date and amortized over the three-year period during which the employees normally become unconditionally entitled to the performance-related shares with a corresponding increase in shareholders’ equity. Amortization is accelerated in the event of earlier vesting. The fair value of the performance-related shares for which vesting is based on the company’s performance or the ranking for sustainability, is the value of the Akzo Nobel N.V. common share on the date of the grant. The fair value for the TSR-linked vesting condition is measured using actuarial valuation methods. The amount recognized as an expense is adjusted to reflect the actual number of performance-related shares that vest, except when forfeiture or extra vesting is due to TSR performance, because this is a market performance condition.

Income tax (Note 6)

Income tax expense comprises both current and deferred tax, including effects of changes in tax rates. In determining the amount of current and deferred tax we also take into account the impact of uncertain tax positions and whether additional taxes and interest may be due. Income tax is recognized in the statement of income, unless it relates to items recognized in Other comprehensive income.

Current tax includes the expected tax payable and receivable on the taxable income for the year, using tax rates enacted or substantially enacted at reporting date, as well as any adjustments to tax payable and receivable with respect to previous years.

Deferred tax is recognized using the balance sheet method. We do not recognize deferred tax for the initial recognition of goodwill, the initial recognition of assets or liabilities that affect neither accounting nor taxable profit, and differences related to investments in subsidiaries to the extent that they will probably not reverse in the foreseeable future. Deferred tax assets are recognized for unused tax losses, tax credits and deductible temporary differences, to the extent that it is probable that future taxable profits will be available against which they can be utilized.

Measurement of deferred tax assets and liabilities is based upon the enacted or substantially enacted tax rates expected to apply to taxable income in the years in which temporary differences are expected to be reversed. Non-refundable dividend tax is taken into account in the determination of deferred tax liabilities to the extent of earnings expected to be distributed by subsidiaries in the foreseeable future. Deferred tax positions are not discounted.

Government grants

Government grants related to costs are deducted from the relevant cost to be compensated in the same period. Government grants to compensate for the cost of an asset are deducted from the cost of the related asset. Emission rights granted by the government are recorded at cost. A provision is recorded if the actual emission is higher than the emission rights granted.

Intangible assets (Note 7)

Intangible assets are valued at cost less accumulated amortization and impairment charges. Intangible assets with an indefinite useful life, such as goodwill and certain brands, are not amortized, but tested for impairment annually. Goodwill in a business combination represents the excess of the consideration paid over the net fair value of the acquired identifiable assets, liabilities and contingent liabilities. If the cost of an acquisition is less than the fair value of the net assets of the subsidiary acquired, the difference is recognized directly in the statement of income. The effects of all transactions with non-controlling interests are recorded in equity if there is no change in control.

Intangible assets with a finite useful life, such as licenses, know-how, brands, customer relationships, intellectual property rights and capitalized development and software costs, are capitalized at historical cost and amortized on a straight-line basis over the estimated useful life of the assets, which generally ranges from five to 40 years. Amortization methods, useful lives and residual values are reassessed annually.

Property, plant and equipment (Note 8)

Property, plant and equipment are valued at cost less accumulated depreciation and impairment charges. Costs include expenditures that are directly attributable to the acquisition of the asset, including financing expenses of capital investment projects under construction.

Depreciation is calculated using the straight-line method, based on the estimated useful life of the asset components. In the majority of cases the useful life of plant equipment and machinery is ten years, and for buildings ranges from 20 to 30 years. Land is not depreciated. In the majority of cases residual value is assumed to be insignificant. Depreciation methods, useful lives and residual values are reassessed annually.

Costs of major maintenance activities are capitalized over the estimated useful life. Maintenance costs which cannot be separately defined as a component of property, plant and equipment are expensed in the period in which they occur.

We recognize conditional asset retirement obligations in the periods in which sufficient information becomes available to reasonably estimate the cash outflow.

Impairments (Note 7, 8)

We assess the carrying value of intangible assets and property, plant and equipment whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying amount of an asset may not be recoverable. In addition, for goodwill and other intangible assets with an indefinite useful life, we review the carrying value annually in the fourth quarter. If the carrying value of an asset or its cash-generating unit exceeds its estimated recoverable amount, an impairment loss is recognized in the statement of income. The assessment for impairment is performed at the lowest level of assets generating largely independent cash inflows. For goodwill and other intangible assets with an indefinite life, we have determined this to be at business unit level (one level below segment).

Except for goodwill, we reverse impairment losses in the statement of income if and to the extent we have identified a change in estimates used to determine the recoverable amount.

Leases (Note 8, 20)

Lease contracts in which we have substantially all the risks and rewards of ownership are classified as finance leases. Upon initial recognition, the leased asset is measured at the lower of its fair value and the present value of minimum lease payments. Subsequent to initial recognition, the asset is accounted for in accordance with the accounting policy applicable to the asset. The interest expenses are recognized as other financing expenses over the lease term.

Payments made under operating leases are recognized in the statement of income on a straight-line basis over the term of the lease.

Associates and joint ventures (Note 9)

Associates and joint ventures are accounted for using the equity method and are initially recognized at cost. The Consolidated financial statements include our share of the income and expenses of the associates and joint ventures, whereby the result is determined using our accounting principles. When the share of losses exceeds the interest in the investee, the carrying amount is reduced to nil and recognition of further losses is discontinued, unless we have incurred legal or constructive obligations on behalf of the investee. Loans to associates and joint ventures are carried at amortized cost less impairment losses.

Inventories (Note 11)

Inventories are measured at the lower of cost and net realizable value. Costs of inventories comprise all costs of purchase, costs of conversion and other costs incurred in bringing the inventories to the present location and condition. The costs of inventories are determined using weighted average cost.

Provisions (Note 16)

We recognize provisions when a present legal or constructive obligation as a result of a past event exists, and it is probable that an outflow of economic benefits is required to settle the obligation. Provisions are measured at net present value. The increase of provisions as a result of the passage of time is recognized in the statement of income under Other financing expenses.

Provisions for restructuring are recognized when a detailed and formal restructuring plan has been approved, and the restructuring has either commenced or has been announced publicly. We do not provide for future operating costs. A provision for warranties is recognized when the underlying products or services are sold, generally based on historical warranty data.

Financial instruments

Regular purchases and sales of financial assets and liabilities are recognized on trade date. The initial measurement of all financial instruments is at fair value. Except for derivatives, the initial measurement of financial instruments is adjusted for directly attributable transaction costs.

Derivative financial instruments (Note 23)

Derivative financial instruments are recognized at fair value on the balance sheet. Fair values are derived from market prices and quotes from dealers and brokers, or are estimated using observable market inputs. When determining fair values, credit risk for our contract party, as well as for AkzoNobel, is taken into account.

Changes in the fair value are recognized in the statement of income, unless cash flow hedge accounting or net investment hedge accounting is applied. In those cases, the effective part of the fair value changes is deferred in Other comprehensive income and released to the related specific lines in the statement of income or balance sheet at the same time as the hedged item.

Other financial non-current assets (Note 10) and trade and other receivables (Note 12)

Loans and receivables are measured at amortized cost, using the effective interest method, less any impairment losses. An allowance for impairment is established if the collection of a receivable becomes doubtful.

Cash and cash equivalents (Note 13)

Cash and cash equivalents are measured at fair value and include all cash balances and short-term investments that are directly convertible into cash. Changes in fair values are included in Financing income.

Long-term and short-term borrowings (Note 17, 18, 23) and trade and other payables (Note 19)

Long-term and short-term borrowings, as well as trade and other payables, are measured at amortized cost, using the effective interest rate method. The interest expense on borrowings is included in Other financing expenses. The fair value of borrowings, used for disclosure purposes, is determined on the basis of listed market price, if available. If a listed market price is not available, the fair value is calculated based on the present value of principal and interest cash flows, discounted at the interest at the reporting date, taking into account AkzoNobel’s credit risk.

New IFRS accounting standards

IFRS standards and interpretations thereof not yet in force which may apply to our Consolidated financial statements for 2015 and beyond have been assessed for their potential impact. The most important upcoming changes are:

Other new IFRS accounting standards

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Standard

 

Published

 

Implementation date in the standard

 

Endorsed by the European Union

 

Anticipated impact

IFRS 9, “Financial Instruments”

 

2009-2014

 

Implementation date of January 1, 2018, with earlier adoption permitted

 

Not yet endorsed

 

IFRS 9 introduces new requirements for classifying and measuring financial assets and liabilities. This standard encompasses an overall change of accounting principles for financial instruments and replaces IAS 39 – the current standard on financial instruments. We will start to make an assessment of the impact of IFRS 9 in 2015.

Amendment to IAS 19, “Employee benefits (Employee contributions)”

 

June 27, 2013

 

July 1, 2014, with earlier adoption permitted

 

December 17, 2014

 

This amendment gives further guidance on the accounting for employee contributions to post-retirement benefit plans and will become effective for our 2015 Consolidated financial statements. We have assessed that this amendment will not materially affect our Consolidated financial statements.

IFRS 15, “Revenue from Contracts with Customers”

 

May 28, 2014

 

January 1, 2017, with earlier adoption permitted

 

Not yet endorsed

 

IFRS 15 replaces existing revenue recognition guidance in IFRS. It introduces a five-step model to determine when to recognize revenue and at what amount, based on transfer of control over goods or services to the customer. New qualitative and quantitative disclosures will also be required. We will assess the impact of IFRS 15 on our Consolidated financial statements in 2015.