Financial consolidation: Dealing with intercompany transactions

Posted by Rick Yvanovich

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Tracking intercompany transactions is perceived as one of the most common problems with financial consolidation. Intercompany transactions are transactions that happen between two entities of the same company. Not adjusting intercompany transactions results in consolidated financial statements that do not offer a true and fair view of the group’s financial situation.

Read more: Intercompany Accounting

Intercompany transactions

Intercompany eliminations (ICE) are made to remove the profit/loss arising from intercompany transactions. No intercompany receivables, payables, investments, capital, revenue, cost of sales, or profits and losses are recognised in consolidated financial statements until they are realised through a transaction with an unrelated party.

The total amount of unrealised profits/loss to be eliminated in intercompany transactions does not vary regardless of whether the subsidiary is wholly-owned (non-controlling interest, NCI, does not exist) or partially owned. However, if the subsidiary is partially owned (i.e., NCI exists), the elimination of such profit/loss may be allocated between the majority and minority interests.

Read more: Planning and budgeting: Solutions to common problems

Classification of Intercompany transactions

Intercompany transactions can be divided into three main categories:

  1. Downstream transaction: This is a transaction from parent to subsidiary. In a downstream transaction, the parent records the transaction and the profit/loss resulting from it. Thus, profit/loss will be visible to the parent’s shareholders only, and not to the minority interest’s.
  2. Upstream transaction: This is a transaction from subsidiary to parent.
  3. Lateral transaction: This is a transaction between two subsidiaries of the same company. In both lateral and upstream transactions, the subsidiary records the transaction and the profit/loss from it. Thus, the profit/loss can be shared between majority and minority interests, as the parent’s shareholders and minority interest share the ownership of the subsidiary.

Intercompany transactions must be adjusted correctly in consolidated financial statements in order to show their impact on the consolidated entity instead of its impact on the parent or subsidiaries solely. Understanding how intercompany transactions are recorded in each concerning entity’s journal entries and the impact of the transaction on each entity is necessary to determine how to adjust intercompany transactions in the consolidated financial statement. Some examples of intercompany transactions and how to account for them will be discussed below.

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Examples of how to handle intercompany transactions

Parent investment in a subsidiary previously accounted for as an asset in the parent’s balance sheet and as equity in the subsidiaries’ balance sheet is eliminated. The subsidiary’s retained earnings are allocated proportionally to controlling and non-controlling interests.

During a downstream transaction the parent sells an asset to its subsidiary: eliminating asset disposal (for parent company), asset acquired (for subsidiary), gain/loss from disposal; restoring the original cost of the asset and the accumulated depreciation based on original cost.

Inventory sales in downstream transactions (from parent to subsidiary) are accounted for as internal transfers between departments of a single entity:

  • In consolidated income statements, eliminate intercompany revenue and cost of sales arising from the transaction.
  • In the consolidated balance sheet, eliminate intercompany payable and receivable, purchase, cost of sales, and profit/loss arising from transaction.

Inventory sales in upstream transactions (from subsidiary to parent):

  • In consolidated income statements, eliminate intercompany revenue and cost of sales arising from the transaction.
  • In the consolidated balance sheet, eliminate intercompany payable and receivable. Profits and losses are eliminated against noncontrolling and controlling interest proportionally.

Downstream intercompany loan, interest charged is recognised as an expense by a borrower:

  • In consolidated income statements, interest income (recognised by the parent) and expense (recognised by the subsidiary) is eliminated.
  • In the consolidated balance sheet, intercompany loans previously recognised as assets (for the parent company) and as liability (for the subsidiary) are eliminated. In this case, non-controlling interests bear their share for the interest expense; thus, the parent company recognises that part of the interest income.

In downstream intercompany loans, from parent to subsidiary, interest is capitalised. This is when a subsidiary borrows from a parent for capital investments (e.g., to build an office building).

  • In consolidated income statements, interest income on intercompany loans is eliminated.
  • In the consolidated balance sheet, eliminate intercompany loans and the amount of capitalised interest from any outstanding intercompany loans. Since the interest is capitalised by the subsidiary, the parent company does not realise any interest income until the capitalised interest is depreciated.

Parent charges subsidiary management fee:

  • In consolidated income statements, eliminate intercompany revenue and expenses arising from the management fee and recognise management expenses attributable to NCI.
  • In the consolidated balance sheet, eliminate income from management fees; management fees attributable to NCI are recognised as income for the parent company.

Find out more: How companies can improve their corporate financial report 

Financial consolidation is more than just adding up numbers from separate financial statements. Many companies nowadays rely on technology to avoid the trouble that accompanies handling NCI, ICE, and more. Subscribe to our Blog to keep informed about the best practices in Financial Management.

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Topics: Financial consolidation, planning and reporting

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 Rick Yvanovich
 /Founder & CEO/

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