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Constructive Capitalization of Operating Leases in the Hong Kong Fast-Food Industry

Y. Tai, Benjamin
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    The current study is undertaken to investigate the potential problems resulting from the proposed adoption of a new accounting standard concerning mandatory capitalization of all lease contracts. In 2010, the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) and the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) issued a joint exposure draft (ED2010/9) on accounting for leases. Under the new standard, lessees are required to capitalize all lease contracts as assets and liabilities. The distinction between operating leases and capital (finance) leases will no longer exist. The long-standing off-balance sheet treatment of operating leases will be prohibited. After the adoption of the proposed standard, companies with significant operating leases are likely to experience an increase in assets, increase in liabilities, and decrease in equity, resulting in the deterioration of their return-on- assets and debt-to-equity ratios. This research examines two large fast-food restaurant chains based in Hong Kong; and through constructive capitalization, demonstrates how the companies' key financial ratios are negatively impacted if the new standard is implemented. The results indicate that both the return-on-assets and debt-to-equity ratios of the two companies, under various discount rates assumptions, suffer serious deterioration when their operating leases are capitalized.


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