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How do firms implement impairment tests of goodwill?

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Adopting a survey approach, our study examines how firms implement impairment test of goodwill. We focus on how firms define and measure the recoverable amount of CGU. The survey includes 58 completed questionnaires representing 73% of the firms on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange that recognise goodwill in the balance sheet. Our survey generally supports that a common practice on impairment tests of goodwill has not yet been established. Based on our analysis it is difficult to determine whether this simply reflects that firms adopt an approach suited to their organisational and economic structures or if it exposes that firms are uncertain as how to apply a standard. The analysis also reveals that some of the methods used when defining a CGU are not in compliance with IAS 36. In addition, we find inconsistencies in the way that firms estimate the recoverable amount. Our analysis should be of interest to a number of parties including firms, financial advisors, auditors, standard setters and users of financial statements. Impairment tests, IAS 36, compliance, goodwill, value in use, valuation techniques.

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Christian Petersen, Thomas Plenborg

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