FASB Amends the Goodwill Impairment Test

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CCH reported this morning that the FASB has issued ASU No. 2010-28, Intangibles - Goodwill and Other (Topic 350): When to Perform Step 2 of the Goodwill Impairment Test for Reporting Units with Zero or Negative Carrying Amounts. The amendments in this ASU modify Step 1 of the goodwill impairment test for reporting units with zero or negative carrying amounts. For those reporting units, an entity is required to perform Step 2 of the goodwill impairment test if it is more likely than not that a goodwill impairment exists. In determining whether it is more likely than not that a goodwill impairment exists, an entity should consider whether there are any adverse qualitative factors indicating that an impairment may exist. The qualitative factors are consistent with the existing guidance and examples, which require that goodwill of a reporting unit be tested for impairment between annual tests if an event occurs or circumstances change that would more likely than not reduce the fair value of a reporting unit below its carrying amount.

For public entities, the amendments in this ASU are effective for fiscal years, and interim periods within those years, beginning after December 15, 2010. Early adoption is not permitted. For nonpublic entities, the amendments are effective for fiscal years, and interim periods within those years, beginning after December 15, 2011. Nonpublic entities may early adopt the amendments using the effective date for public entities.

Observation:  Good going by the FASB.  I've seen situations where reporting units with negative carrying amounts have skated out of goodwill impairment because there is some implied fair value for the unit.  Never made sense to me either.  I'm surprised that earlier adoption is not permitted for public entities, so we won't see any of this really until we hit 12/31/11 reporting.

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