England— World Council of Credit Unions, Inc. (WOCCU) advocated the importance of recognizing the uniqueness of credit union mergers and participated as an invited observer at the International Accounting Standard Board (IASB) meeting. During the meeting the IASB debated how cooperatives and mutuals should account for their mergers.
For the past three years WOCCU has worked with international credit union movements and accounting standards boards in the United States, Canada and the IASB to ensure that the unique nature of credit union mergers is understood. WOCCU has taken on the lead role with the IASB in securing the current exemption from credit unions from utilizing the purchased method of accounting.
International Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS) 3 on Business Combinations will be published by the end of March 2004, requiring the application of a new method (purchased accounting) as opposed to the traditional (pooling of interest) method used by credit unions. However, as a result of WOCCU's work with the IASB, cooperatives and mutuals will be excluded from the scope of IFRS 3 until an amendment is developed that appropriately recognizes the uniqueness of mergers of mutuals/cooperatives. The IASB plans to publish an Exposure Draft of its mutuals amendment to IFRS also at the end of March 2004 for a 90-comment period. This amendment will likely propose that the aggregate fair value of the acquiree's identifiable assets, liabilities and contingent liabilities be recognized as the deemed cost of the business combination.
"Leveraged buyouts and hostile take over bids just don't happen in credit union mergers and we should not be forced to utilize the accounting rules for credit union mergers that don't fit," noted Dave Grace, WOCCU senior manger, trade association following the IASB meeting. Grace continued, "The fundamental issue is that we need to ensure that when two credit unions merge, the capital of the credit union being absorbed can be added into the continuing credit union. Unless credit unions get the special treatment that WOCCU is advocating for the capital may not directly transfer over and it may stop a lot of mergers that otherwise would make sense."
The IASB meeting on this topic was a debate as to what the amendment for mutuals/cooperatives to IFRS 3 might contain. The tentative decision was that if the acquirer and acquiree are both mutual entities and no payment is exchanged to complete the merger, the credit unions will be able to utilize a different standard to their benefit.
"WOCCU will continue to work with members and the IASB to ensure that if credit unions choose to merge, they can do so under accounting rules that recognize the unique nature of mergers among cooperative entities," noted Arthur Arnold, president and CEO.
World Council of Credit Unions is the global trade association and development agency for credit unions. World Council promotes the sustainable development of credit unions and other financial cooperatives around the world to empower people through access to high quality and affordable financial services. World Council advocates on behalf of the global credit union system before international organizations and works with national governments to improve legislation and regulation. Its technical assistance programs introduce new tools and technologies to strengthen credit unions' financial performance and increase their outreach.
World Council has implemented more than 290 technical assistance programs in 71 countries. Worldwide, 51,000 credit unions in 100 countries serve 196 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at www.woccu.org.