Volume 8, No. 5


The Bonfire Of The IPR&D:  By now, even day-trading grandmothers are probably familiar with the initials "IPR&D": In-Process Research & Development. Those in the know understand that those initials mean something else: they stand for what a management can do, accounting-wise, in a business combination "If Pooling Rules Disappoint."Acquisition-minded managements concerned with balance sheet vanities crave the cosmetics provided by pooling of interests accounting. The criteria to meet in accomplishing a pooling are often impossible to achieve - and to satisfy their balance sheet vanity, managements will go for a "synthetic pooling" by citing an obscure accounting interpretation in order to achieve the same ends. That interpretation calls for the writeoff of any portion of an acquisition's purchase price related to in-process research & development projects. The technique became wildly popular in the 1990's. It has caught the attention of the SEC in its earnings management crackdown, created a media frenzy, caused traders to panic - and provoked the FASB to act. In short, the accounting for IPR&D has become a bonfire on the investment landscape. What follows here is a recap of the problem and a look at the solution the FASB has proposed.

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