United States

The interaction between ASC 321, ASC 323 and ASC 815


Topic 321, “Investments—Equity Securities,” of the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) Accounting Standards Codification (ASC) provides the ability to measure certain equity securities without a readily determinable fair value at cost, minus impairment, if any. ASC 321-10-35-2, as amended, states that if an entity identifies observable price changes in orderly transactions for the identical or a similar investment of the same issuer, it should measure the equity security at fair value as of the date that the observable transaction occurred. Diverse views have emerged about the application of this measurement alternative and the equity method of accounting in accordance with ASC 323, “Investments—Equity Method and Joint Ventures.”

The FASB recently issued a proposed Accounting Standards Update (ASU) to clarify that the observable price changes in orderly transactions that should be considered when applying the measurement alternative in accordance with ASC 321 include transactions that require it to either apply or discontinue the equity method of accounting under ASC 323. For example, as it relates to investments for which the measurement alternative is elected, if an observable price change in an orderly transaction for the identical investment or similar security of the same issuer results in a change in ownership that causes the investor to either newly apply or discontinue the equity method, the carrying amount of the security accounted for under the measurement alternative would be adjusted to its fair value immediately before applying or upon discontinuing the equity method.

The proposed ASU also addresses questions about how to apply the guidance in Topic 815, “Derivatives and Hedging,” for certain forward contracts and purchased options to purchase securities that, upon settlement or exercise, would be accounted for under the equity method of accounting. If finalized, the proposed ASU would clarify that, for the purpose of applying ASC 815-10-15-141(a), an entity should not
consider whether, upon the settlement of the forward contract or exercise of the purchased option, the underlying securities would be accounted for under the equity method in ASC 323. An entity also would evaluate the remaining characteristics in ASC 815-10-15-141 to determine the accounting for those forward contracts and purchased options.

The proposed ASU is available for comment until August 29, 2019.