IASB confirms new reclassification rules

Sir David Tweedie, chairman IASB

The International Accounting Standards Board has confirmed a change to its
rules allowing some assets to be reclassified and avoid be subject to a fair
value calculation.

The announcement came last night after the standard setter was allowed to
abandon its usual due process and rush through a change that would match US
rules. A change was needed to create a level competitive playing field between
companies in countries that use IFRS, especially Europe, and the US.

However, the reclassification will only apply to securities. Derivatives and
the now notorious credit default swaps cannot be reclassified.

The changes allow some assets to be moved from ‘held for sale’ or trade,
which means using a fair value calculation, to ‘held for investment’ which does

However, moving something to held for investment still requires an impairment
test to be applied which could still reveal some losses.

In the US, it is understood, that reclassification is rarely used because of
strict supervision by the financial watchdog the SEC. The IASB has committed
itself to drawing up an anti abuse measure.

Sir David Tweedie, chairman of the IASB, said: ‘In addressing the rare
circumstances of the credit crisis, the IASB is committed to taking urgent
action to ensure that transparency and confidence are restored to financial
markets. The IASB has acted quickly to address the concerns raised by EU leaders
and ither regarding the issue of reclassification.

‘Our response is consistent with the request made by European leaders and
finance ministers. It is important that these amendments are permitted for use
rapidly and without modification.’

It is not clear at this stage what kind of value can be placed on the assets
that could be reclassified, or what contribution they will make to balance

Yesterday the American Bankers Association stepped up its attack on fair
value and the US standard setters clarification of the rules.

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