Upon emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy, companies are required to apply the provisions of Accounting Standards Codification 852, Reorganizations. Under this treatment, referred to as “fresh start” accounting, companies exiting Chapter 11 are required to re-state assets and liabilities at fair value, as if the company were being acquired at a price equal to the reorganization value. As a result, two principal valuation-related questions are relevant for companies in bankruptcy:
When valuing identifiable intangible assets, we use valuation methods under the cost, income, and market approaches.
The cost approach seeks to measure the future benefits of ownership by quantifying the amount of money that would be required to replace the future service capability of the subject intangible asset. The assumption underlying the cost approach is that the cost to purchase or develop new property is commensurate with the economic value of the service that the property can provide during its life. The cost approach does not directly consider the economic benefits that can be achieved or the time period over which they might continue. It is an inherent assumption with this approach that economic benefits exist and are of sufficient amount and duration to justify the developmental expenditures.
Methods under the cost approach are frequently used to measure the fair value of assembled workforce, proprietary software, and other technology-related assets.
The market approach provides an indication of value by comparing the price at which similar property has been exchanged between willing buyers and sellers. When the market approach is used, an indication of value of a specific intangible asset can be gained from looking at the prices paid for comparable property.
Since there is rarely an active market for identifiable intangible assets apart from broader business combination transactions, valuation methods under the market approach are not commonly used to value identifiable intangible assets.
However, available market data, such as observed royalty rates in licensing transactions, is an important input in valuation methods under the income approach such as the relief-from-royalty method. Other market-derived data helps to inform estimates of the cost of capital and other valuation inputs, as well.
The income approach focuses on the capacity of the subject intangible asset to produce future economic benefits. The underlying theory is that the value of the subject property can be measured as the present worth of the net economic benefits to be received over the life of the intangible asset.
Using valuation methods under the income approach, we estimate future benefits expected to result from the subject asset and an appropriate rate at which to discount these expected benefits to the present. The most common valuation methods under the income approach are the relief from royalty method and multi-period excess earnings method, or MPEEM.
We often apply the MPEEM to measure the fair value of customer relationship and technology intangibles.
The valuation techniques for identifiable intangible assets are rooted in the fundamental elements of business valuation, cash flow and risk, under the cost, market, and income approaches. However, when valuing identifiable intangible assets, we use valuation methods adapted to the unique attributes of those assets.
Travis W. Harms leads Mercer Capital’s Family Business Advisory Services Group. Travis’s practice focuses on providing financial education, valuation, and other strategic financial consulting to multi-generation family businesses. The Family Business Advisory Services Group helps ...
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