Rio Tinto plc – Annual report – 31 December 2020
1 Principal accounting policies (extract)
(b) Basis of consolidation (notes 32-35)
All intragroup transactions and balances have been eliminated on consolidation.
Where necessary, adjustments are made to the locally reported assets, liabilities, and results of subsidiaries, joint arrangements and associates to bring their accounting policies in line with those used by the Group.
Subsidiaries are entities controlled by either of the companies. Control exists where either of the companies has: power over the entities, that is, existing rights that give it the current ability to direct the relevant activities of the entities (those that significantly affect the companies’ returns); exposure, or rights, to variable returns from its involvement with the entities; and the ability to use its power to affect those returns. Subsidiaries are fully consolidated from the date on which the Group obtains control. They are de-consolidated from the date that control ceases.
A joint arrangement is an arrangement in which two or more parties have joint control. Joint control is the contractually agreed sharing of control such that decisions about the relevant activities of the arrangement (those that significantly affect the companies’ returns) require the unanimous consent of the parties sharing control. The Group has two types of joint arrangements:
Joint operations (JO)
A JO is a joint arrangement in which the parties that share joint control have rights to the assets, and obligations for the liabilities, relating to the arrangement. This includes situations where the parties benefit from the joint activity through a share of the output, rather than by receiving a share of the results of trading. In relation to its interest in a JO, the Group recognises: its share of assets and liabilities; revenue from the sale of its share of the output and its share of any revenue generated from the sale of the output by the JO; and its share of expenses. All such amounts are measured in accordance with the terms of the arrangement, which is usually in proportion to the Group’s interest in the JO. These amounts are recorded in the Group’s financial statements on the appropriate lines.
Joint ventures (JV)
A JV is a joint arrangement in which the parties that share joint control have rights to the net assets of the arrangement. JVs are accounted for using the equity accounting method.
Other unincorporated arrangements
In some cases, the Group participates in unincorporated arrangements and has rights to its share of the assets and obligations for its share of the liabilities of the arrangement rather than a right to a net return, but does not share joint control. In such cases, the Group recognises: its share of assets and liabilities; revenue from the sale of its share of the output and its share of any revenue generated from the sale of the output by the unincorporated arrangement; and its share of expenses. All such amounts are measured in accordance with the terms of the arrangement, which is usually in proportion to the Group’s interest in the arrangement. These amounts are recorded in the Group’s financial statements on the appropriate lines.
An associate is an entity that is neither a subsidiary nor a joint arrangement, over which the Group has significant influence. Significant influence is presumed to exist where there is neither control nor joint control and the Group has over 20% of the voting rights, unless it can be clearly demonstrated that this is not the case. Significant influence can arise where the Group holds less than 20% of the voting rights if it has the power to participate in the financial and operating policy decisions affecting the entity. Investments in associates are accounted for using the equity accounting method.
The Group uses the term “equity accounted units” (EAUs) to refer to associates and JVs collectively. Under the equity accounting method the investment is recorded initially at cost to the Group, including any goodwill on acquisition. In subsequent periods the carrying amount of the investment is adjusted to reflect the Group’s share of the EAUs’ retained post-acquisition profit or loss and other comprehensive income. Long-term loans to EAUs that in substance form part of the Group’s net investment (quasi equity loans) are financial assets but are included in the line “Investments in equity accounted units” on the face of the balance sheet. When the Group’s share of losses in an EAU equals or exceeds its interest in the EAU, including such long-term loans and any other unsecured receivables, the Group does not recognise further losses, unless it has incurred legal or constructive obligations to continue to make payments on behalf of the EAU.
Acquisitions (note 36)
Under the “acquisition” method of accounting for business combinations, the purchase consideration is allocated to the identifiable assets acquired and liabilities and contingent liabilities assumed (the identifiable net assets) on the basis of their fair value at the date of acquisition, which is the date on which control is obtained.
In determining whether a particular set of activities is a business, an acquired arrangement has to have an input and substantive process which together significantly contribute to the ability to create outputs.
The consideration transferred for the acquisition of a subsidiary comprises the fair values of the assets transferred, the liabilities incurred to the former owners of the acquiree, the fair value of any asset or liability resulting from a contingent consideration arrangement and any equity interests issued by the Group. Costs related to the acquisition of a subsidiary are expensed as incurred.
The excess of the consideration transferred, the amount of any noncontrolling interest in the acquiree and the acquisition-date fair value of any previous equity interest in the acquiree over the fair value of the identifiable net assets acquired is recorded as goodwill. Any shortfall is immediately recognised in the income statement.
Non-controlling interests in the acquiree, that are present ownership interests and entitle their holders to a proportionate share of the entity’s net assets in the event of liquidation, are recognised by the Group in one of two ways with the choice being available on an acquisition-by-acquisition basis. They can be measured at either the non-controlling interest’s proportionate share of the acquiree’s identifiable net assets or at fair value. In some cases, non-controlling interests may be treated as equity options and valued on that basis. Goodwill (see note 1(e)) and amounts attributable to non-controlling interests will differ depending on the basis used.
Where the Group previously held a non-controlling interest in the acquiree, this is remeasured to fair value at the date control is obtained with any gain or loss recognised in the income statement. The cash cost of the share purchase that gives rise to control is included within “investing activities” in the cash flow statement.
Where the Group increases its ownership interest in a subsidiary, the difference between the purchase price and the carrying value of the share of net assets acquired is recorded in equity. The cash cost of such purchases is included within “financing activities” in the cash flow statement.
Provisional fair values allocated at a reporting date are finalised within 12 months of the acquisition date.
The results of businesses acquired during the year are included in the consolidated financial statements from the date on which control, joint control or significant influence is obtained.
Disposals (note 36)
Individual non-current assets or “disposal groups” (that is, groups of assets and liabilities) to be disposed of by sale or otherwise in a single transaction are classified as “held for sale” if the following criteria are met at the period end:
- The carrying amount will be recovered principally through a sale transaction rather than through continuing use; and
- The disposal group is available for immediate sale in its present condition subject only to terms that are usual and customary for such sales; and
- The sale is highly probable.
Disposal groups held for sale are carried at the lower of their carrying amount and fair value less costs to sell. The comparative balance sheet is not restated. Disposal groups acquired with a view to resale are held at the fair value determined at the acquisition date. For these assets acquired for resale no profits or losses are recognised between the acquisition date and the disposal date, unless there is a subsequent impairment.
On classification as held for sale, the assets are no longer depreciated and, if applicable, equity accounting ceases.
If control is lost, any interest in the entity retained by the Group is remeasured to its fair value and the change in carrying amount is recognised in the income statement. The retained interest may be subsequently accounted for as a joint venture, joint operation, associate or financial asset depending on the facts. Certain amounts previously recognised in other comprehensive income in respect of the entity disposed of, or for which control, joint control or significant influence has ceased, may be recycled to the income statement. The cash proceeds of disposals are included within “Investing activities” in the cash flow statement.
Changes in the Group’s interest in a subsidiary that do not result in a loss of control are accounted for in equity. The cash proceeds of such disposals are included within “Financing activities” in the cash flow statement.
Critical accounting policies and estimates (extract)
(ix) Basis of consolidation (notes 32-35)
Judgment is sometimes required to determine whether after considering all relevant factors, the Group has control, joint control or significant influence over an entity or arrangement. Significant influence includes situations of collective control (see note 35 (a)). Other companies may make different judgments regarding the same entity or arrangement. The most significant instance of such a judgment by the Group is in the determination that Escondida is a joint venture, based on the nature of significant commercial decisions, including capital expenditure, which require approval by both Rio Tinto and its partner BHP.