Mercedes-Benz Group AG – Annual report – 31 December 2021
1. Significant accounting policies (extract)
Impairment of financial assets
At each reporting date, a loss allowance is recognised for financial assets, loan commitments and financial guarantees other than those to be measured at fair value through profit or loss reflecting expected losses for these instruments. Expected credit losses are allocated using three stages:
Stage 1: expected credit losses within the next twelve months
Stage 1 includes all contracts with no significant increase in credit risk since initial recognition and usually includes new acquisitions and contracts with fewer than 31 days past due date. The portion of the lifetime expected credit losses resulting from default events possible within the next 12 months is recognised.
Stage 2: expected credit losses over the lifetime – not credit impaired
If a financial asset has a significant increase in credit risk since initial recognition but is not yet credit impaired, it is moved to stage 2 and measured at lifetime expected credit loss, which is defined as the expected credit loss that results from all possible default events over the expected life of a financial instrument.
Stage 3: expected credit losses over the lifetime – credit impaired
If a financial asset is defined as credit-impaired or in default, it is transferred to stage 3 and measured at lifetime expected credit loss. Objective evidence for a credit-impaired financial asset includes 91 days past due date and other information about significant financial difficulties of the debtor.
The determination of whether a financial asset has experienced a significant increase in credit risk is based on an assessment of the probability of default, which is made at least quarterly, incorporating external credit rating information as well as internal information on the credit quality of the financial asset. For debt instruments that are not receivables from financial services, a significant increase in credit risk is assessed mainly based on past-due information or the probability of default.
A financial asset is migrated to stage 2 if the asset’s credit risk has increased significantly compared to its credit risk at initial recognition. The credit risk is assessed based on the probability of default. For trade receivables, the simplified approach is applied whereby all trade receivables are allocated to stage 2 initially. Hence, no determination of significant increases in credit risk is necessary.
The Mercedes-Benz Group applies the low-credit-risk exception to the stage allocation to quoted debt instruments with investment-grade ratings. These debt instruments are always allocated to stage 1.
In stage 1 and 2, the effective interest revenue is calculated based on gross carrying amounts. If a financial asset becomes credit impaired in stage 3, the effective interest revenue is calculated based on its net carrying amount (gross carrying amount adjusted for any loss allowance).
MEASUREMENT OF EXPECTED CREDIT LOSSES Expected credit losses are measured in a way that reflects:
a) the unbiased and probability-weighted amount;
b) the time value of money, and
c) reasonable and supportable information (if available without undue cost or effort) at the reporting date about past events, current conditions and forecasts of future economic conditions.
Expected credit losses are measured as the probability-weighted present value of all cash shortfalls over the expected life of each financial asset. For receivables from financial services, expected credit losses are mainly calculated with a statistical model using three major risk parameters: probability of default, loss given default and exposure at default.
The estimation of these risk parameters incorporates all available relevant information, not only historical and current loss data, but also reasonable and supportable forward-looking information reflected by the future expectation factors. This information includes macroeconomic factors (e.g., gross domestic product growth, unemployment rate, cost performance index) and forecasts of future economic conditions. For receivables from financial services, these forecasts are performed using a scenario analysis (basic scenario, optimistic scenario and pessimistic scenario). The impairment amount for trade receivables is predominantly determined on a collective basis.
A financial instrument is written off when there is no reasonable expectation of recovery, for example, at the end of insolvency proceedings or after a court decision of uncollectibility.
Significant modification of financial assets (e.g., with a change in the present value of the contractual cash flows of 10%) also leads to derecognition of the financial assets with a simultaneous recognition of new financial assets. This is expected to be rare and immaterial for receivables from financial services. If the terms of a contract are renegotiated or modified and this does not result in derecognition of the contract, then the gross carrying amount of the contract has to be recalculated and a modification gain or loss has to be recognised in profit or loss.
34. Management of financial risks (extract)
General information on financial risks
As a result of its businesses and the global nature of its operations, the Mercedes-Benz Group is exposed to market risks from changes in foreign currency exchange rates and interest rates, while commodity price risks arise from procurement. An equity price risk results from investments in listed companies. In addition, the Group is exposed to credit risks from its leasing and financing activities and from its business operations (trade receivables). Furthermore, the Group is exposed to liquidity and country risks relating to its credit and market risks or a deterioration of its business operations or financial market disturbances. If these financial risks materialise, they could adversely affect the Mercedes-Benz Group’s profitability, liquidity and capital resources and financial position.
The Mercedes-Benz Group has established internal guidelines for risk controlling procedures and for the use of financial instruments, including a clear segregation of duties with regard to financial activities, settlement, accounting and the related controlling. The guidelines upon which the Group’s risk management processes for financial risks are based are designed to identify and analyse these risks throughout the Group, to set appropriate risk limits and controls and to monitor the risks by means of reliable and up-to-date administrative and information systems. The guidelines and systems are regularly reviewed and adjusted to changes in markets and products.
The Group manages and monitors these risks primarily through its operating and financing activities and, if required, through the use of derivative financial instruments. The Mercedes-Benz Group uses derivative financial instruments exclusively for hedging financial risks that arise from its business operations or refinancing activities or liquidity management. Without these derivative financial instruments, the Group would be exposed to higher financial risks. Additional information on financial instruments and especially on the volumes of the derivative financial instruments used is included in Note 33. The Mercedes-Benz Group regularly evaluates its financial risks with due consideration of changes in key economic indicators and up-to-date market information.
The market sensitive instruments, including equity and debt securities, that the plan assets hold to finance pension and other post-employment healthcare benefits, are not included in the following quantitative and qualitative analysis. See Note 23 for additional information on the Mercedes-Benz Group’s pension and other post-employment benefits.
Credit risk is the risk of economic loss arising from a counterparty’s failure to repay or service debt in accordance with the contractual terms. Credit risk encompasses both the direct risk of default and the risk of a deterioration of creditworthiness as well as concentration risks.
The maximum risk positions of financial assets which are generally subject to credit risk are equal to their carrying amounts at the balance sheet date (without consideration of collateral, if available). There is also a risk of default from irrevocable loan commitments which had not been utilised as of that date, as well as from financial guarantees. The maximum risk position in these cases is equal to the expected future cash outflows. Table D.88 shows the maximum risk positions at the balance sheet date.
Liquid assets consist of cash and cash equivalents and marketable debt securities and similar investments. With the investment of liquid assets, banks and issuers of securities are selected very carefully and diversified in accordance with a limit system. Liquid assets are mainly held at financial institutions within and outside Europe with high creditworthiness, as bonds issued by German federal states and as money market funds. In connection with investment decisions, priority is placed on the borrower’s very high creditworthiness and on balanced risk diversification. The limits and their utilisations are reassessed continuously. In this assessment, the Mercedes-Benz Group also considers the credit risk assessment of its counterparties by the capital markets. In line with the Group’s risk policy, most liquid assets are held in investments with an external rating of “A” or better. Liquid assets are thus not subject to a material credit risk and are allocated to stage 1 of the impairment model under IFRS, which is based on expected credit risk.
Receivables from financial services
The Mercedes-Benz Group’s financing and leasing activities are primarily focused on supporting the sales of the Group’s automotive products. As a consequence of these activities, the Group is exposed to credit risk, which is monitored and managed based on defined standards, guidelines and procedures. The Mercedes-Benz Group manages its credit risk irrespective of whether it is related to a financing contract or to an operating lease or a finance lease contract. For this reason, statements concerning the credit risk of Mercedes- Benz Mobility refer to the entire financing and leasing business, unless otherwise specified.
Exposure to credit risk from financing and lease activities is monitored based on the portfolio subject to credit risk. The portfolio subject to credit risk consists of wholesale and retail receivables from financial services and the portion of the operating lease portfolio that is subject to credit risk. Receivables from financial services comprise claims arising from finance lease contracts and repayment claims from financing loans. The operating lease portfolio is reported under equipment on operating leases in the Group’s Consolidated Financial Statements. Overdue lease payments from operating lease contracts are recognised in receivables from financial services.
The Mercedes-Benz Mobility segment has guidelines setting the framework for effective risk management at a global as well as a local level. In particular, these rules deal with minimum requirements for all risk-relevant credit processes, the definition of financing products offered, the evaluation of customer quality, requests for collateral and the treatment of unsecured loans and non-performing claims. The limitation of concentration risks is implemented primarily by means of global limits, which refer to customer exposures. To comply with these limits, Mercedes-Benz Mobility applies approval standards and measures to avoid concentration risks. Only two customers were granted credit lines in relation to a large loan. The Mercedes-Benz Mobility portfolio consists of a large number of small and medium-sized enterprises and private customers from more than 30 countries. At 31 December 2021, this segment accounted for 78% of the portfolio.
With respect to its financing and lease activities, the Group holds collateral for customer transactions limiting actual credit risk through its fair value. The value of collateral generally depends on the amount of the financed assets. The financed vehicles usually serve as collateral. Furthermore, Mercedes-Benz Mobility limits credit risk from financing and lease activities, for example through advance payments from customers.
For the assessment of the default risk of retail and small business customers, scoring systems are applied to evaluate their creditworthiness. Corporate customers are evaluated using internal rating instruments. Both evaluation processes use external credit bureau data if available. The scoring and rating results as well as the availability of security and other risk mitigation instruments, such as advance payments, guarantees and, to a lower extent, residual debt insurances, are essential elements for credit decisions.
If, in connection with contracts, a worsening of payment behaviour or other causes of a credit risk are recognised, collection procedures are initiated by claims management to obtain the overdue payments of the customer, to take possession of the asset financed or leased or, alternatively, to renegotiate the impaired contract. Restructuring policies and practices are based on the indicators or criteria which, in the judgment of local management, indicate that repayment will probably continue and that the total proceeds expected to be derived from the renegotiated contract exceed the expected proceeds to be derived from repossession and remarketing. Due to the covid-19 pandemic, government support programmes for customers still existed in some markets in 2021, which led to modifications of financial assets for receivables from financial services. Most of the customer support programmes offered by Mercedes-Benz Mobility expired in 2021. The design of the programmes meant that these modifications were, however, classified as insignificant and that they did not lead to significantly increased bad-debt losses.
The allowance ratio decreased slightly compared to the previous year due to the low payment defaults, positive economic forecasts at 31 December 2021 and the reduction of the allowance components formed in the previous year in response to the covid-19 crisis.
For information on credit risks included in receivables from financial services, see Note 15. Information on the measurement of expected credit losses is provided in Note 1.
Trade receivables are mostly receivables from worldwide sales of vehicles and spare parts. The credit risk from trade receivables encompasses the default risk of customers, e.g., dealers and general distribution companies, as well as other corporate and private customers. In order to identify credit risks, the Mercedes-Benz Group assesses the creditworthiness of customers. The Mercedes-Benz Group manages its credit risk from trade receivables using appropriate IT applications and databases on the basis of internal guidelines which have to be followed globally.
A significant proportion of the trade receivables from each country’s domestic business is secured by various country-specific types of collateral. This collateral includes conditional sales, guarantees and sureties, as well as mortgages and advance payments from customers.
For trade receivables from the export business, the Mercedes-Benz Group also evaluates its customers’ creditworthiness by means of an internal rating process with consideration of the respective country risk. In this context, the year-end financial statements and other relevant information on the general distribution companies, such as payment history, are used and assessed.
Depending on the creditworthiness of the customers, the Mercedes-Benz Group usually establishes credit limits and limits credit risks with the following types of collateral:
- credit insurances,
- first-class bank guarantees and
- letters of credit.
These procedures are defined in the export credit guidelines, which have Group-wide validity.
For impairments of trade receivables, the simplified approach is applied, whereby these receivables are allocated to stage 2. Credit losses until maturity for these trade receivables are recognised upon initial recognition.
Further information on trade receivables and the status of impairments recognised is provided in Note 20.
Derivative financial instruments
The Group uses derivative financial instruments exclusively for hedging financial risks that arise from its operational business, financing activities or liquidity management. The Mercedes-Benz Group manages its credit risk exposure in connection with derivative financial instruments through a limit system, which is based on the review of each counterparty’s financial strength. This system limits and diversifies the credit risk. As a result, the Mercedes-Benz Group is exposed to credit risk only to a small extent with respect to its derivative financial instruments. In accordance with the Group’s risk policy, most derivatives are contracted with counterparties which have an external rating of “A” or better.
Other receivables and financial assets
With respect to other receivables and financial assets included in other financial assets in 2021 and 2020, the Mercedes-Benz Group is exposed to credit risk only to a small extent.
Irrevocable loan commitments
The Mercedes-Benz Mobility segment in particular is exposed to credit risk from irrevocable loan commitments to end customers and retailers. At 31 December 2021, irrevocable loan commitments amounted to €3,044 (2020: €2,109) million. These loan commitments had a maturity of less than one year and are not subject to a material credit risk based on the current state of knowledge.
The maximum potential obligations resulting from financial guarantees amount to €829 million at 31 December 2021 (2020: €563 million) and include liabilities recognised at 31 December 2021 in the amount of €15 million (2020: €99 million). Financial guarantees principally represent contractual arrangements. These guarantees generally provide that in the event of default or non-payment by the primary debtor, the Group will be required to settle such financial obligations generally up to a contractually agreed amount.
15. Receivables from financial services
Table D.45 shows the components of receivables from financial services.
Types of receivables
Receivables from sales financing with customers include receivables from credit financing for customers who purchased their vehicle either from a dealer or directly from the Mercedes-Benz Group.
Receivables from sales financing with dealers represent loans for floor financing programmes for vehicles sold by the Group’s automotive businesses to dealers or loans for assets purchased by dealers from third parties, primarily, used vehicles traded in by dealers’ customers or dealers’ real estate financing.
Receivables from finance-lease contracts consist of receivables from leasing contracts for which all substantial risks and rewards incidental to the leasing objects are transferred to the lessee.
All cash-flow effects attributable to receivables from financial services are presented within cash provided by for operating activities in the Consolidated Statement of Cash Flows.
Table D.46 shows the maturities of the future contractual lease payments and the development of lease payments to the carrying amounts of receivables from finance-lease contracts.
In 2021, the Mercedes-Benz Group recognised a gain of €203 million (2020: €336 million) as the difference between the additions to receivables from finance-lease contracts and the carrying amounts of the underlying assets (especially in connection with the delivery of vehicles to consolidated companies, which result in a finance-lease).
The development of loss allowances for receivables from financial services due to expected credit losses is shown in table D.47.
At 31 December 2020, €0.4 billion of the loss allowances related to the increase in the allowance for credit losses recognised at the Mercedes-Benz Mobility segment through profit and loss as a result of the economic development in connection with the covid-19 pandemic. In addition, the decrease of the loss allowances compared to 2020 is attributable to the spin-off and hive-down of Daimler’s commercial vehicle business.
The carrying amounts of receivables from financial services based on modified contracts that are shown in stages 2 and 3, amounted to €392 million at 31 December 2021 (31 December 2020: €2,440 million). In addition, carrying amounts of €210 million (31 December 2020: €473 million) in connection with contractual modifications were reclassified from stages 2 and 3 into stage 1.
Information on credit risks included in receivables from financial services is shown in table D.48.
Longer overdue periods regularly lead to higher allowances.
At the beginning of the contracts, collaterals of usually at least 100% of the carrying amounts were agreed, which are backed by the vehicles based on the underlying contracts. Over the contract terms, the amounts of the collaterals are included in the calculation of the risk provisioning, so the carrying amounts of the credit-impaired contracts are primarily backed by the underlying vehicles.
Further information on financial risks and the nature of risks is provided in Note 34.
At 31 December 2021, receivables from financial services with a carrying amount of €10,378 million (31 December 2020: €11,463 million) were pledged mostly as collateral for liabilities from ABS transactions (see also Note 25).
20. Trade receivables
Trade receivables are comprised as shown in table D.52.
At 31 December 2021, €32 million of the trade receivables mature after more than one year (31 December 2020: €35 million).
Trade receivables are receivables from contracts with customers within the scope of IFRS 15.
The development of loss allowances due to expected credit losses for trade receivables is shown in table D.53.
Information on credit risks included in trade receivables is shown in table D.54.
Further information on financial risk and types of risk is provided in Note 34.