1.4 – Accounting policies

Revenue recognition

Revenues from the sale of goods or the rendering of services are recognized upon the transfer of ownership and risk to the buyer. They are measured at the fair value of the consideration received. Sales revenues are reported without sales tax. Expected rebates and other trade discounts are either accrued or deducted. Provisions are made according to the principle of individual measurement to cover probable risks related to the return of products, estimated future warranty obligations and other claims.

Revenues from the sale of precious metals to industrial customers as well as revenues from natural gas trading are recognized at the time of shipment and the corresponding purchase price is recorded at cost of sales. In the trading of precious metals and their derivatives with broker-traders, where there is usually no physical delivery, revenues are recorded on a net basis. Revenues from the natural gas trading activities of a project company consolidated by BASF are also recorded on a net basis.

In certain cases, customer acceptance is required on delivery. For these cases, sales are recognized after the buyer’s consent has been given.

Payments relating to the sale or licensing of technologies or technological expertise are recognized in income according to the contractually agreed transfer of the rights and obligations associated with those technologies.

Assets

Acquired intangible assets (excluding goodwill) with defined useful lives are valued at cost less scheduled straight-line amortization. The useful life is determined using the period of the underlying contract or the period of time over which the intangible asset is expected to be used.

Impairments are recognized if the recoverable amount of the asset is lower than the carrying amount. The recoverable amount is the higher of either fair value less costs to sell and the value in use. If the reasons for the impairment no longer exist, the write-downs are reversed up to the value of the asset, had an impairment not been recorded. Depending on the type of intangible asset, the amortization expense is recorded as cost of sales, selling expenses, research and development expenses or other operating expenses.

Intangible assets with indefinite useful lives are trade names and trademarks that have been acquired as part of acquisitions. They are measured at their cost and tested for impairment annually.

Goodwill is only written down if there is an impairment. Impairment testing takes place once a year and whenever there is an indication of an impairment.

Internally generated intangible assets primarily comprise internally developed software. Such software and other internally generated assets for internal use are valued at cost and amortized over their useful lives. Impairments are recognized if the carrying amount of an asset exceeds the recoverable amount. In addition to those costs directly attributable to the asset, costs of internally generated intangible assets also include an appropriate allocation of overhead costs. Borrowing costs are capitalized to the extent that they apply to the purchase or the period of construction of qualifying assets.

The estimated useful lives and amortization methods are based on historical values, plans and estimates. These estimates also consider the period and distribution of future cash inflows. The depreciation methods, useful lives and residual values are reviewed at each balance sheet date. The weighted-average useful lives of intangible assets amounted to:

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Average amortization in years

 

2013

2012

Distribution, supply and similar rights

15

13

Product rights, licenses and trademarks

17

17

Know-how, patents and production technologies

14

13

Internally generated intangible assets

4

5

Other rights and values

8

7

Emission rights: Emission right certificates, granted free-of-charge by the German Emissions Trading Authority (Deutsche Emissionshandelsstelle) or a similar authority in other countries, are recognized at fair value at the time they are credited to the electronic register run by the relevant governmental authority. Purchased emission rights are recorded at cost. In some European countries, emission certificates for 2013 will not be credited until 2014. In such cases, the rights to receive emission certificates are capitalized as intangible assets. Subsequently, they are measured at fair value, up to a maximum of cost. If the fair value is lower than the carrying amount on the balance sheet date, the emission rights are written down.

Property, plant and equipment are carried over their useful lives at acquisition or production cost less scheduled depreciation and impairments. The revaluation method is not applied. Low-value assets are fully written off in the year of acquisition and are shown as disposals. The cost of self-constructed plants includes direct costs, appropriate allocations of material and manufacturing costs, and a share of the general administrative costs of the divisions involved in the construction of the plants. Borrowing costs are capitalized to the extent that they apply to the purchase or the period of construction of qualifying assets.

Expenditures related to the scheduled maintenance of large-scale plants are separately capitalized and depreciated using the straight-line method over the period until the next planned turnaround. The costs for the replacement of components are recognized as assets when an additional future benefit is expected. The book value of the replaced components is derecognized. The costs for maintenance and repair as part of normal business operations are recognized as an expense.

Both movable and immovable fixed assets are for the most part depreciated using the straight-line method. The estimated useful lives and amortization methods applied are based on historical values, plans and estimates. These estimates also consider the period and distribution of future cash inflows. The depreciation methods, useful lives and residual values are reviewed at each balance sheet date. The weighted-average depreciation periods were as follows:

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Weighted-average depreciation period in years

 

2013

2012

Buildings and structural installations

22

20

Machinery and technical equipment

10

10

Long-distance natural gas pipelines

25

25

Miscellaneous equipment and fixtures

7

7

Impairments are recognized if the recoverable amount of the asset is lower than the carrying amount. The measurement is based on fair value less selling costs or the value in use. Value in use is determined on the basis of the average weighted cost of capital after taxes, which was between 7.42% and 12.22% (2012: 6.79% and 11.59%), depending on tax rates and country-related risks. An impairment is recognized for the difference between the carrying amount and the recoverable amount. If the reasons for the impairment no longer exist, the write-downs are reversed up to the value of the asset, if an impairment had not been recorded.

Investment properties held to realize capital gains or rental income are immaterial. They are valued at the lower of fair value or acquisition cost less scheduled depreciation.

Leases: A lease is an agreement whereby the lessor conveys to the lessee in return for a payment or series of payments the right to use an asset for an agreed period of time. Leasing contracts are classified as either finance or operating leases.

Assets subject to operating leases are not capitalized. Lease payments are recognized in the income statement in the year they are incurred.

A lease is classified as a finance lease if it substantially transfers all of the risks and rewards related to the leased asset. Assets subject to a finance lease are recognized as assets at the present value of the minimum lease payments. A leasing liability is recorded in the same amount. The periodic lease payments must be divided into principal and interest components. The principal component reduces the outstanding liability, while the interest component represents an interest expense. Depreciation takes place over the shorter of the useful life of the asset or the period of the lease.

Leases can be embedded within other contracts. If separation is required under IFRS, then the embedded lease is recorded separately from its host contract and each component of the contract is carried and measured in accordance with the applicable regulations.

BASF acts as a lessor for finance leases to a minor extent only.

Borrowing costs: Borrowing costs directly incurred as part of the acquisition, construction or production of an eligible asset are capitalized as part of the acquisition or production cost of that asset. A qualifying asset is an asset when the time period to get ready for its intended use or sale is longer than one year. Borrowing costs are capitalized up to the date the asset is ready for its intended use. The borrowing costs are calculated based on a rate of 4.5% (2012: 4.5%), which is adjusted on a country-specific basis. All other borrowing costs are recognized as an expense in the period in which they are incurred.

Government grants: Government grants related to the acquisition or construction of property, plant and equipment reduce the acquisition or construction cost of the respective assets. Other government grants or government assistance are recognized immediately as other operating income or treated as deferred income and reversed over the underlying period.

Investments accounted for using the equity method: The carrying amounts of these companies are adjusted annually based on the pro rata share of net income, dividends and other changes in equity. Should there be indications of a permanent reduction in the value of an investment, an impairment is recognized in the income statement.

Inventories are carried at cost. If the listed, market or fair value of the sales product which forms the basis for the net realizable value is lower, then this is applied and an impairment is recognized. The net realizable value is based on the selling price in the ordinary course of business less the estimated costs of completing and selling the product.

In addition to direct costs, cost of conversion includes an appropriate allocation of production overhead costs based on normal utilization rates of the production plants, provided that they are related to the production process. Pensions, social services and voluntary social benefits are also included, as well as allocations for administrative costs, provided they relate to the production. Borrowing costs are not included in cost of conversion.

Valuation allowances on inventories result from price declines in sales products and extended inventory coverage.

For the measurement of inventories in the precious metals trading business, the Company applies the exception for commodity broker-traders under IAS 2. Accordingly, inventories held exclusively for trading purposes are to be measured at fair value. Changes in value are recognized in the income statement.

Deferred taxes: Deferred taxes are recorded for temporary differences between the carrying amount of assets and liabilities in the financial statements and the carrying amounts for tax purposes as well as for tax loss carryforwards and unused tax credits. This also comprises temporary differences arising from business combinations, with the exception of goodwill. Deferred tax assets and liabilities are calculated according to country-specific tax rates. Any changes to the tax rate enacted or substantively enacted on or before the balance sheet date are taken into consideration. The tax rate for corporations based in Germany was, as in the previous year, 29%.

Deferred tax assets are offset against deferred tax liabilities provided they are related to the same taxation authority. Surpluses of deferred tax assets are only recognized provided that the tax benefits are likely to be realized. The valuation of deferred tax assets depends on the estimated probability of a reversal of the temporary differences and the ability to utilize tax loss carryforwards and unused tax credits. This depends on whether future taxable profits will exist during the period in which temporary differences are reversed and in which tax loss carryforwards and unused tax credits can be claimed. Based on experience and the expected development of taxable income, it is assumed that the benefits of the recognized deferred tax assets will be realized. The valuation of deferred tax assets is based on internal projections of the future earnings of the particular Group company.

Changes in deferred taxes in the balance sheet are recorded as deferred tax expense or income if the transaction or event on which they are based is not to be recognized directly in equity. For those effects which have been recognized in equity, changes to deferred tax assets and tax liabilities are also recognized directly in equity.

No deferred tax liabilities are recognized for differences between the proportional IFRS equity and the tax base of the investment in a consolidated subsidiary when a reversal of these differences is not expected in the foreseeable future. Deferred tax liabilities are recognized for dividend distributions which are planned for the following year if these distributions lead to a reversal of temporary differences.

Financial instruments

Financial assets and financial liabilities are recognized in the balance sheet when the BASF Group becomes a party to a financial instrument. Financial assets are derecognized when the contractual rights to the cash flows from the financial asset expire or when the financial asset, with all risks and rewards of ownership, is transferred. Financial liabilities are derecognized when the contractual obligation expires, is discharged or cancelled. Regular way purchases and sales of financial instruments are accounted for using the settlement date; in precious metals trading, the day of trading is used.

The fair value of a financial instrument is the amount that would be received to sell an asset or paid to transfer a liability in an orderly transaction between market participants at the measurement date. When pricing on an active market is available, for example on a stock exchange, this price is used for the measurement. Otherwise, the measurement is based on internal measurement models using current market parameters or external measurements, for example, from banks. These internal measurements predominantly use the net present value method and option pricing models.

If there is objective evidence of a permanent impairment of a financial instrument that is not measured at fair value through profit or loss, an impairment loss is recognized. If the reason for the impairment of loans and receivables as well as held-to-maturity financial instruments no longer exists, the impairment is reversed up to the amortized cost and recognized in the income statement. Impairments on financial instruments are booked in separate accounts.

Financial assets and liabilities are divided into the following measurement categories:

  • Financial assets and liabilities at fair value recognized in the income statement consist of derivatives and other trading instruments. At BASF, this measurement category only includes derivatives. Derivatives are reported in other assets or other liabilities. BASF does not make use of the fair value option under IAS 39. The calculation of fair values is based on market parameters or measurement models based on such parameters. In some exceptional cases, the fair value is calculated using parameters which are not observable on the market.
  • Loans and receivables comprise financial assets with fixed or determinable payments, which are not quoted on an active market and are not derivatives or classified as available-for-sale. This measurement category includes trade accounts receivable as well as other receivables and loans reported under other receivables and miscellaneous assets. Initial measurement is done at fair value, which generally matches the nominal value of the receivable or loan. Interest-free and low-interest long-term loans and receivables are recorded at present value. Subsequent measurement recognized in income is generally made at amortized cost using the effective interest method.

    If there is objective evidence for an impairment of a receivable or loan, an individual valuation allowance is made. When assessing the need for a valuation allowance, regional and sector-specific conditions are considered. In addition, use is made of internal and external ratings as well as the assessments of debt collection agencies and credit insurers, when available. A portion of receivables is covered by credit insurance. Bank guarantees and letters of credit are used to a limited extent. Valuation allowances are only recognized for those receivables which are not covered by insurance or other collateral. The valuation allowances for receivables whose insurance includes a deductible cannot exceed the amount of the deductible. Impairments are based on historical values relating to customer solvency and the age, period overdue, insurance policies and customer-specific risks. In addition, a valuation allowance must be recognized when the contractual conditions which form the basis for the receivable are changed through renegotiation in such a way that the present value of the future cash flows decreases.

    Receivables for which no objective indication for an impairment exists may be impaired based on historical default rates. In addition, valuation allowances are made on receivables based on transfer risks for certain countries.

    If, in a subsequent period, the amount of the valuation allowance decreases and the decrease can be related objectively to an event occurring after the impairment was recognized, the previously recognized write-down is to be reversed in the income statement. Reversals of valuation allowances may not exceed amortized cost. Loans and receivables are derecognized when they are definitively found to be uncollectible.

  • Held-to-maturity financial assets consist of non-derivative financial assets with fixed or determinable payments and a fixed term, for which there is the ability and intent to hold until maturity, and which do not fall under other valuation categories. Initial measurement is done at fair value, which matches the nominal value in most cases. Subsequent measurement is carried out at amortized cost, using the effective interest method.

    For BASF, there are no material financial assets that fall under this category.

  • Available-for-sale financial assets comprise financial assets which are not derivatives and do not fall under any of the previously stated valuation categories. This measurement category comprises shareholdings reported under the item other financial assets which are not accounted for using the equity method as well as short and long-term securities.

    The measurement is carried out at fair value. Changes in fair value are recognized directly in equity under the item other comprehensive income and are only recognized in the income statement when the assets are disposed of or have been impaired. Subsequent reversals are recognized directly in equity (other comprehensive income). Only in the case of debt instruments are reversals up to the amount of the original impairment recognized in the income statement; reversals above this amount are recognized directly in equity. If the fair value of available-for-sale financial assets drops below acquisition costs, the assets are impaired if the decline in value is significant and can be considered lasting. The fair values are determined using market prices. Shareholdings whose fair value cannot be reliably determined are carried at acquisition cost and are written down in the case of an impairment. When determining the value of these shareholdings, the acquisition costs constitute the best estimate of their fair value. This category of shareholdings includes investments in other shareholdings, provided that these shares are not publicly traded. There are no plans to sell significant stakes in these shareholdings.

  • Financial liabilities which are not derivatives are initially measured at fair value, which normally corresponds to the amount received. This usually corresponds to the amount received. Subsequent measurement is carried out at amortized cost, using the effective interest method.
  • Cash and cash equivalents consist primarily of cash on hand and bank balances.

There were no reclassifications from one measurement category to another in 2013 and 2012. The same applies for transfers between levels in the fair value hierarchy.

Revenue from interest-bearing assets is recognized on the outstanding receivables on the balance sheet date using interest rates calculated by means of the effective interest method. Dividends from shareholdings not accounted for using the equity method are recognized when the shareholders’ right to receive payment is established.

Derivative financial instruments can be embedded within other contracts. If IFRS requires separation, then the embedded derivative is recorded separately from its host contract and shown at fair value.

Financial guarantees of the BASF Group are contracts that require compensation payments to be made to the guarantee holder if a debtor fails to make payment when due under the terms of the financial guarantee. Financial guarantees are measured at fair value upon initial recognition. In subsequent periods, financial guarantees are carried at the higher of amortized cost or the best estimate of the present obligation on the financial reporting date.

Cash flow hedge accounting is applied for selected deals to hedge future transactions. The effective portion of the change in fair value of the derivative is thereby recognized directly in equity under other comprehensive income, taking deferred taxes into account. The ineffective portion is recognized immediately in the income statement. In the case of future transactions that will lead to a nonfinancial asset or a nonfinancial debt, the cumulative fair value changes in equity are either charged against the acquisition costs on initial recognition or recognized in profit or loss in the reporting period in which the hedged item is recorded in the income statement. For hedges based on financial assets or debts, the cumulative fair value changes of the hedges are transferred from equity to the income statement in the reporting period in which the hedged item is recognized in the income statement. The maturity of the hedging instrument is determined based on the effective date of the future transaction.

Hedge accounting can be used to hedge the translation risk from investments in foreign subsidiaries (hedge of a net investment in a foreign operation). The effective portion of the hedge is recognized in equity. If the foreign operation is disposed of, these amounts are reclassified to the income statement. The ineffective portion of the hedge is immediately recognized in the income statement.

When fair value hedges are used, the asset or liability is hedged against the risk of a change in fair value, with changes in the market value of the derivative financial instruments recognized in the income statement. Furthermore, the carrying amount of the underlying transaction is adjusted by the profit or loss resulting from the hedged risk, offsetting the effect in the income statement.

The derivatives employed by BASF for hedging purposes are effective hedges from an economic point of view. Changes in the fair value of the derivatives almost completely offset the changes in the value of the underlying transactions.

Debt

Provisions for pensions and similar obligations: Provisions for pensions are based on actuarial computations made according to the projected unit credit method, which applies valuation parameters that include: future developments in compensation, pensions and inflation, employee turnover and the life expectancy of beneficiaries. The resulting obligations are discounted on the balance sheet date using the market yields on high-quality corporate fixed-rate bonds with an AA rating.

Similar obligations, especially those arising from commitments by North American Group companies to pay the healthcare costs and life insurance premiums of retired staff and their dependents, are included in pension provisions.

The calculation of pension provisions is based on actuarial reports.

Other provisions: Other provisions are recognized when there is a present obligation as a result of a past event and when there is a probable outflow of resources whose amount can be reliably estimated. Provisions are recognized at the probable settlement value.

Provisions for German trade income tax, German corporate income tax and similar income taxes are determined and recognized in the amount necessary to meet the expected payment obligations less any prepayments that have been made. Other taxes to be assessed are considered accordingly.

Provisions are established for certain environmental protection measures and risks if the measures are considered likely as a result of present legal or constructive obligations arising from a past event. Provisions for restoration obligations primarily concern the filling of wells and the removal of production facilities upon the termination of production in the Oil & Gas segment. When the obligation arises, the provision is measured at the present value of the future restoration costs. An asset is capitalized for the same amount as part of the carrying amount of the plant concerned and is depreciated along with the plant. The discount on the provision is unwound annually until the time of the planned restoration.

Other provisions also include expected charges for the rehabilitation of contaminated sites, the recultivation of landfills, the removal of environmental contamination at existing production or storage facilities and other similar measures. If BASF is the only responsible party that can be identified, the provision covers the entire expected claim. At sites operated together with one or more partners, the provision generally covers only BASF’s share of the expected claim. The determination of the amount of the provision is based on the available technical information on the site, the technology used, legal regulations, and official obligations.

Provisions are recognized for expected severance payments or similar personnel expenses as well as for demolition expenses and other charges related to the closing of operations that have been planned and publicly announced by management.

Provisions for long-service and anniversary bonuses are predominantly calculated based on actuarial principles. For contracts signed under the early retirement programs, approved supplemental payments are accrued in installments until the end of the exemption phase at the latest. Accounting and measurement follow the German Accounting Standards Committee’s application note 1 (IFRS) of December 4, 2012.

Other provisions also cover risks resulting from legal disputes and proceedings. In order to determine the amount of the provisions, the Company takes into consideration the facts related to each case, the size of the claim, claims awarded in similar cases and independent expert advice as well as assumptions regarding the probability of a successful claim and the range of possible claims. The actual costs can deviate from these estimates.

The probable amount required to settle long-term provisions is discounted if the effect of discounting is material. In this case, the provision is recognized at present value. Assumptions must be made in determining the discount rate used for calculating long-term provisions. Financing costs related to the compounding of provisions in subsequent periods are shown in other financial results.

Other accounting policies

Acquisition of companies: In company acquisitions, the acquired assets and liabilities are recognized at fair value on the date the acquirer effectively obtains control. The fair value of acquired assets and assumed liabilities at the date of exchange, as well as the useful lives of the acquired assets, are determined on the basis of assumptions. The measurement is largely based on projected cash flows. The actual cash flows can differ significantly from the cash flows used to determine the fair values. Independent external appraisals are used for the purchase price allocation of material acquisitions. Valuations in the course of business combinations are based on existing information as of the acquisition date.

Groups of assets and liabilities held for disposal/disposal groups: These comprise those assets and directly associated liabilities shown on the balance sheet whose sale in the context of a single transaction is highly probable. The assets and liabilities of disposal groups are recognized at the lower of the sum of their carrying amounts or fair value less costs to sell; this does not apply to assets which do not fall under the valuation principles of IFRS 5. Scheduled depreciation of noncurrent assets and the use of the equity method are suspended.

Oil and gas exploration: Exploration and development expenditures are accounted for using the successful efforts method. Under this method, costs of successful exploratory drilling as well as successful and dry development wells are capitalized.

An exploration well is a well located outside of an area with proven oil and gas reserves. A development well is a well which is drilled to the depth of a reservoir of oil or gas within an area with proven reserves.

Exploratory drilling is generally reported under construction in progress until its success can be determined. When the presence of hydrocarbons is proven such that the economic development of the field is probable, the costs remain capitalized as suspended well costs. At least once a year, all suspended wells are assessed from an economic, technical and strategic viewpoint to see if development is still intended. If this is not the case, the capitalized expenses for the well in question are written off. When reserves are proven and the development of the field begins, the exploration wells are reclassified as machinery and technical equipment.

Production costs include all costs incurred to operate, repair and maintain the wells as well as the associated plant and ancillary production equipment, including the associated depreciation.

The unit of production method is used to depreciate assets from oil and gas exploration at the field or reservoir level. Depreciation is generally calculated on the basis of the production of the period in relation to the proven, developed reserves.

Exploration expenses pertain exclusively to the Oil & Gas segment and include all costs related to areas with unproven oil or gas deposits. These include costs for the exploration of areas with possible oil or gas deposits, among others. Costs for geological and geophysical investigations are always reported under exploration expenses. In addition, this item includes all valuation allowances for capitalized expenses for exploration wells which did not encounter proven reserves. Scheduled depreciation of successful exploratory drilling is reported under cost of sales.

An Exploration and Production Sharing Agreement is a type of contract in crude oil and gas concessions whereby the expenses and profits from the exploration, development and production phases are divided between the state and one or more exploration and production companies using defined keys. The revenue BASF is entitled to under such contracts is reported as sales.

The intangible asset from the marketing contract for natural gas from the Yuzhno Russkoye natural gas field is amortized based on BASF’s share of the produced and distributed volumes.

Intangible assets in the Oil & Gas segment relate primarily to exploration and drilling rights. During the exploration phase, these are not subject to scheduled amortization but are tested for impairment annually. When economic success is determined, the rights are amortized in accordance with the unit of production method.

Use of estimates and assumptions in the preparation of the Consolidated Financial Statements

The carrying amount of assets, liabilities and provisions, contingent liabilities and other financial obligations in the Consolidated Financial Statements depends on the use of estimates and assumptions. Specific estimates or assumptions used in individual accounting or valuation methods are disclosed in their respective sections. They are based on the circumstances and estimates on the balance sheet date and affect the reported amounts of income and expenses during the reporting periods. These assumptions affect the determination of useful lives of property, plant and equipment and intangible assets, the measurement of provisions, the carrying amount of investments, and other similar valuations of assets and obligations. Although uncertainty is appropriately incorporated in the valuation factors, actual results can differ from these estimates.

Impairment tests
on assets are carried out whenever certain triggering events indicate that an impairment may be necessary. External triggering events include, for example, changes in customer industries, technologies used and economic downturns. Internal triggering events for an impairment include lower product profitability, planned restructuring measures or physical damage to assets.

Impairment tests are based on a comparison of the carrying amount and the recoverable amount. The recoverable amount is the higher of fair value less costs to sell and the value in use. Value in use is generally determined using the discounted cash flow method. The estimation of cash flows and the assumptions used consider all information available on the respective balance sheet date on the future development of the operating business. Actual future developments may vary. Impairment testing relies upon the cash-generating unit’s long-term earnings forecasts, which are based on economic trends. The weighted average cost of capital (WACC) based on the Capital Asset Pricing Model plays an important role in impairment testing. The WACC is made up of the risk-free interest rate, the country-specific tax rates, the beta of the BASF share and assumptions as to the spread for credit risk and the market risk premium for the cost of equity. Additional important assumptions are the forecasts for the detailed planning period and the terminal growth rates used.

For more information, see Note 14

 
An impairment is recognized if the recoverable amount of the asset is lower than the carrying amount. The impairment of the asset (excluding goodwill) is made in the amount of the difference between these amounts.

The goodwill impairment test is based on cash-generating units. At BASF, the cash-generating units are predominantly the business units, or in certain cases, the divisions. If there is a need for a valuation allowance, the carrying amount of goodwill is written down, and if necessary completely written off as a first step. If there is further need for a valuation allowance, this is allocated to the remaining assets of the cash-generating unit. Goodwill impairments are reported under other operating expenses. Impairment reversals are not conducted for goodwill.