New Lease Accounting Standards

Debt Covenants

ASC 842 requires companies to bring certain operating leases onto the balance sheet to be reported as assets and liabilities. The increase in liabilities on the balance sheet could mean that some companies will violate their debt covenants. However, FASB has said that ASC 842 characterizes operating leases as operating liabilities rather than debt, so there should be minimal effect, if any, on debt covenants.

Key considerations for determining the impact to debt covenants include:

  • How many current operating leases are there? What will the impact of those leases be on the balance sheet and financial ratios after the implementation of the new standards?
  • What are the terms of the debt covenants? Are there terms that provide protection against financial ratio change due to change in accounting standards?
  • Are lenders aware of how the new standards will affect their customers? Are they prepared to deal with any issues resulting from the accounting change in terms of staff knowledge and availability?

What the Experts Think

Links to Additional Resources

How Will the New Lease Accounting Standard Impact Loan Covenants?

Covenants Reconsidered In Preparation for New Lease Accounting Rules (ASC 842; IFRS 16)

November 2018

During the upcoming implementation period, it is imperative for users of financial statements to understand the scope and implications of these changes. In particular, contractual covenants typical in debt financing arrangements will need to be carefully analyzed and crafted to avoid adverse consequences such as inadvertent default.

How Will the New Lease Accounting Standard Impact Loan Covenants?

September 2016

Although most companies are focused on the impact new lease accounting guidelines will have on their financial statements, the guidelines also impact other external reporting, functional, and operational areas—including loan covenants.

Impact Of Operating Leases Moving To Balance Sheet

May 1, 2018

In this Forbes article, a contributor from New Contracts explains how operating leases have been included in their models in the past, and how operating leases will be included in the future.

IASB Downplays Lease Accounting Rules Impact on Debt Covenants

March 16, 2015

This Wall Street Journal article reviews what the International Accounting Standards Board has said about the impact of the new lease accounting standards on debt covenants.

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