Determining The Impact Of Capitalising Long-Term Operating Leases On The Financial Ratios Of The Top 40 JSE-Listed Companies

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Rikus R de Villiers
Sanlie L Middelberg

Keywords

Capitalising, Financial Ratios, Finance Lease, Long-Term Operating Leases, Off-Balance-Sheet Financing, JSE Top 40

Abstract

Operating leases forma great part of companies financing structures in todays economicenvironment. Some accounting standard-setters and other users of financialstatements are of the opinion that the current standard on accounting foroperating leases, IAS 17, does not provide sufficient guidelines on the disclosureof a companys leasing activities. The current accounting standard on leasesprovides companies with the opportunity to classify lease contracts intodifferent classes which leads to off-balance-sheet financing. This problem iscurrently being addressed by the IASB as they are in the process of developingan improved standard on leases.The main focus ofthis paper is to determine the impact of the improved accounting standard onthe financial statements and the resulting financial ratios of theJSETop40 companies when operating leases are accounted for ason-balance-sheet debt. The differences between the current IAS 17 and theExposure draft (ED/2010/9) are identified and the comparison indicatessignificant differences between these two approaches on accounting foroperating lease activities.The focus of the IASBin developing this exposure draft was to provide the users of financialstatements with a universal picture of the leasing activities that the companyis engaged in. The findings include that this objective is achieved as usersare not left uninformed about any of the financing activities that stakeholdersare exposed to if indeed a company is engaged in operating lease activities.The study also revealed that the capitalising of long-term operating leaseswill have a significant effect on the key financial ratios that stakeholdersuse to interpret a companys financial performance.

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