Share options talk moves up a gear

The International Accounting Standards Board has decided to reissue an existing discussion paper to widen the debate, following the first round of preliminary talks at a global level yesterday.

The discussion paper on share-based payment was originally issued in July 2000 by the now defunct G4+1 group – a group of Anglo standard setters. But it was decided today at the IASB board meeting that the paper would need to be reissued as many organisations were either unaware of its existence or did not respond believing it would not affect them.

Kimberley Crook, IASB project manager, said: ‘The IASB has decided to re-publicise the G4+1 Discussion Paper on share-based payment. The board hopes to raise awareness of the accounting issues it is now considering, particularly the more complex measurement issues.

‘Any conclusions reached will be tentative and subject to reconsideration if necessary in the light of comments received.’

The deadline for comment has been extended to 15 December 2001. An exposure draft could be issued by June next year.

Debate is expected to focus on whether to use grant date or vesting date and whether to disclose the offering of share options or book them in a company?s accounts.

Sir David Tweedie, IASB chairman, said: ‘There is still room for discussion and debate. A huge question is how we measure it. We particularly want comments on measurement. Another major issue is if we agree it’s an expense, should it go through the income statement?’

General consensus at board level is that share options are an expense.

Companies argue that share options granted to employees are not an expense and therefore should not be booked in the accounts.

The greatest show of resistance is expected to come from the US commercial lobby, which has vehemently resisted all previous attempts to force companies to include a charge in their accounts.

The US is the only country with a standard on accounting for share options, but the IASB argues it does not go far enough. Under the US standard, share options are considered as an expense but are not booked in the accounts, merely disclosed.


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