These figures are in line with a previous EY survey that took place before the introduction of IFRS 16 that examined the expected impact of the standard. However, the results are averages and there is a wide range within some sectors. For example, within the shipping and transport sector, the percentage increase in assets varies from 1% to 34% (producing a 14% average).
Making more use of management commentary
The survey confirmed that the more significant the effects of IFRS 16 on the financial statements, the greater the level of disclosure and explanation in the management commentary about the first-time adoption of the standard.
Most of the companies surveyed did not restate the comparative information in their financial statements as they applied the “modified retrospective” approach on transition to IFRS 16. Instead, many of those in the sectors particularly affected by IFRS 16 tailored their disclosures in the commentary to explain the changes.
This included adding columns of financial information, either to present comparatives restated to include the impact arising from the adoption of IFRS 16 or presenting current year information both “with” and “excluding” the effects of adopting the standard.
There were also changes in the use of Alternative Performance Measures (APMs) such as EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) and EBITDAR (which also excludes rent).
EBITDA is likely to rise under IFRS 16 for companies that have large-scale lease arrangements, as the majority of the former rental expenses will be reflected in depreciation and interest. The survey showed that some companies have adjusted EBITDA to include depreciation of right-of-use assets and interest expenses on lease liabilities to keep the basis of measurement consistent across the years.
IFRS 16 requires companies to reclassify cash outflows for lease payments from operating to financing activities in the statement of cash flows. The survey showed that some companies changed their definition or calculation of “free cash flow” to become, for example, “free cash flow after leases,” as they adjusted free cash flow for repayment of lease liabilities.
IFRS 16 has also had an impact on debt, as additional liabilities are recognized for leases that were previously off balance sheet. Some companies, especially those in the airline sector, previously added a multiple of operating lease expenses to net debt to present an APM called “adjusted net debt” to better reflect the level of indebtedness. Since the adoption of IFRS 16, this is no longer necessary as these companies can present net debt from the balance sheet (which includes lease liabilities).
Overall, the survey suggests that companies most affected by the implementation of IFRS 16 have communicated to investors the impact of the first-time adoption of the standard with transparency and have provided additional management commentary where necessary to explain any changes.