The International Public Sector Accounting Standards Board® (IPSASB®) released the Exposure Draft (ED) 60, Public Sector Combinations for comment.

ED 60 classifies public sector combinations as either amalgamations or acquisitions taking into account control and other factors. A party to the combination must gain control over an operation for it to be treated as an acquisition rather than an amalgamation, but control is not sufficient in itself to determine that a combination is an acquisition.

Instead, gaining of control over an operation creates a rebuttable presumption that the combination is an acquisition. If the acquisition presumption is rebutted, then the transaction is treated as an amalgamation. This approach is different to that proposed in the IPSASB’s 2012 Consultation Paper (CP), Public Sector Combinations, and addresses concerns raised by stakeholders in their responses to that CP.

For recognition and measurement of amalgamations, ED 60 proposes use of the “modified pooling of interests” method of accounting. This method, also referred to as “merger accounting”, recognizes the amalgamation on the date it takes place. For acquisitions, ED 60 proposes use of the “acquisition” method of accounting, applying the same approach as in IFRS 3, Business Combinations. This is supplemented with guidance for public sector-specific situations.

“Public Sector Combinations has been a very challenging project for our board,” said IPSASB Chair Ian Carruthers. “The main concern that emerged from submissions to the 2012 IPSASB Consultation Paper was that respondents did not agree that acquisition accounting, as prescribed by IFRS 3, Business Combinations, is appropriate for all combinations in the public sector. Addressing this concern by identifying the factors that distinguish an amalgamation from an acquisition has proved difficult. However, I believe we have now achieved this. We look forward to receiving constituents’ views on our proposals.”