IFRS 12 paras 20, 21, B12, B16, IAS 28 paras 40-43, disclosure on associates, and details of impairment review

HSBC Holdings plc – Annual report – 31 December 2018

Industry: banking

18 Interests in associates and joint ventures (extract)


At 31 December 2018, the carrying amount of HSBC’s interests in associates was $22,244m (2017: $22,577m).


A list of all associates and joint ventures is set out on page 302. 

Bank of Communications Co., Limited (‘BoCom’)

The Group’s investment in BoCom is classified as an associate. Significant influence in BoCom was established via representation on BoCom’s Board of Directors and participation in a technical cooperation and exchange programme (‘TCEP’). Under the TCEP, a number of HSBC staff have been seconded to assist in the maintenance of BoCom’s financial and operating policies. Investments in associates are recognised using the equity method of accounting in accordance with IAS 28, whereby the investment is initially recognised at cost and adjusted thereafter for the post-acquisition change in the Group’s share of BoCom’s net assets. An impairment test is required if there is any indication of impairment.

Impairment testing

At 31 December 2018, the fair value of HSBC’s investment in BoCom had been below the carrying amount for approximately 80 months. As a result, the Group performed an impairment test on the carrying amount of the investment in BoCom, which confirmed there was no impairment at 31 December 2018 as the recoverable amount as determined by a value-in-use (‘VIU’) calculation was higher than the carrying value.hsbc3

In future periods, the VIU may increase or decrease depending on the effect of changes to model inputs. The main model inputs are described below and are based on factors observed at the period-end. The factors that could result in a change in the VIU and an impairment include a short-term underperformance by BoCom, a change in regulatory capital requirements, or an increase in uncertainty regarding the future performance of BoCom resulting in a downgrade of the future asset growth or profitability. An increase in the discount rate as a result of an increase in the risk premium or risk-free rates could also result in a reduction of VIU and an impairment. At the point where the carrying value exceeds the VIU, impairment would be recognised.

If the Group did not have significant influence in BoCom, the investment would be carried at fair value rather than the current carrying value.

Basis of recoverable amount

The impairment test was performed by comparing the recoverable amount of BoCom, determined by a VIU calculation, with its carrying amount. The VIU calculation uses discounted cash flow projections based on management’s estimates of future earnings available to ordinary shareholders prepared in accordance with IAS 36. Significant management judgement is required in arriving at the best estimate. There are two main components to the VIU calculation. The first component is management’s best estimate of BoCom’s earnings which is based on management’s explicit forecasts over the short to medium term. This results in forecast earnings growth that is lower than recent historical actual growth and also reflects the uncertainty arising from the current economic outlook. Earnings beyond the short to medium term are then extrapolated in perpetuity using a long-term growth rate to derive a terminal value, which comprises the majority of the VIU. The second component is the capital maintenance charge (‘CMC’) which is management’s forecast of the earnings that need to be withheld in order for BoCom to meet regulatory capital requirements over the forecast period (i.e. CMC is deducted when arriving at management’s estimate of future earnings available to ordinary shareholders). The principal inputs to the CMC calculation include estimates of asset growth, the ratio of risk-weighted assets to total assets, and the expected minimum regulatory capital requirements. An increase in the CMC as a result of a change to these principal inputs would reduce VIU. Additionally, management considers other factors (including qualitative factors) to ensure that the inputs to the VIU calculation remain appropriate.

Key assumptions in value-in-use calculation

We used a number of assumptions in our VIU calculation, in accordance with the requirements of IAS 36:

  • Long-term profit growth rate: 3% (2017: 3%) for periods after 2022, which does not exceed forecast GDP growth in mainland China and is consistent with forecasts by external analysts.
  • Long-term asset growth rate: 3% (2017: 3%) for periods after 2022, which is the rate that assets are expected to grow to achieve long-term profit growth of 3%.
  • Discount rate: 11.82% (2017: 11.85%), which is based on a capital asset pricing model (‘CAPM’) calculation for BoCom, using market data. Management also compares rates derived from the CAPM with discount rates from external sources. The discount rate used was within the range of 10.4% to 15.0% (2017: 10.2% to 13.4%) indicated by external sources.
  • Loan impairment charge as a percentage of customer advances: an increased range from 0.73% to 0.79% (2017: 0.66% to 0.82%) in the short to medium term reflect US-China trade tensions. For periods after 2022, the ratio is 0.70% (2017: 0.70%), which is slightly higher than the historical average.
  • Risk-weighted assets as a percentage of total assets: 62% (2017: 62%) for all forecast periods. This is slightly higher than BoCom’s actual results and slightly lower than the forecasts disclosed by external analysts.
  • Cost-income ratio: ranges from 38.7% to 39.0% (2017: 37.1% to 38.0%) in the short to medium term. This is consistent with the forecasts disclosed by external analysts.
  • Effective tax rate: ranges from 13.8% to 22.3% (2017: 18.2% to 22.5%) in the short to medium term, reflecting an expected increase towards the long-term assumption. For periods after 2022, the rate is 22.5% (2017: 22.5%), which is slightly higher than the historical average.
  • Regulatory capital requirements: capital adequacy ratio of 11.5% (2017:11.5%) and tier 1 capital adequacy ratio of 9.5% (2017: 9.5%), based on the minimum regulatory requirements.

The following table shows the change to each key assumption in the VIU calculation that on its own would reduce the headroom to nil.


The following table further illustrates the impact on VIU of reasonably possible changes to key assumptions. This reflects the sensitivity of the VIU to each key assumption on its own and it is possible that more than one favourable and/or unfavourable change will occur at the same time. The selected rates of reasonably possible changes to key assumptions are largely based on external analysts’ forecasts, which can change from period to period.


Considering the interrelationship of the changes set out in the table above, management estimates that the reasonably possible range of VIU is $15.5bn to $19.6bn (2017: $14.7bn to $21.1bn). In 2018, the range is based on the favourable/unfavourable change in the earnings in the short to medium-term and long-term LICs set out in the table above. All other long-term assumptions, the discount rate and the basis of the CMC have been kept unchanged when determining the reasonably possible range of the VIU.

Selected financial information of BoCom

The statutory accounting reference date of BoCom is 31 December. For the year ended 31 December 2018, HSBC included the associate’s results on the basis of the financial statements for the 12 months ended 30 September 2018, taking into account changes in the subsequent period from 1 October 2018 to 31 December 2018 that would have materially affected the results.