The preparation of financial statements requires management and the Board of Directors to make estimates and judgments that affect reported amounts of assets, liabilities, revenues and expenses, and related disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities. These estimates are based on historical experience and various other assumptions that management and the Board believe are reasonable under the circumstances, the results of which form the basis for making judgments about the carrying values of assets and liabilities that are not readily apparent from other sources. Actual results may differ from these estimates under different assumptions or conditions, significantly impacting TeliaSonera’s earnings and financial position.
For a telecom operator, to determine fair values and if or when revenue should be recognized requires management judgment in a number of cases, such as when signing agreements with third-party providers for content services (whether TeliaSonera acts as principal or agent under a certain agreement); in complex bundling of products, services and rights to use assets into one customer offering (whether TeliaSonera should recognize the separate items up-front or defer); the sales of Indefeasible Rights of Use (IRUs); and in assessing the degree of completion in service and construction contracts.
Significant management judgment is required in determining current tax liabilities and assets as well as provisions for deferred tax liabilities and assets, in particular as regards valuation of deferred tax assets. As part of this process, income taxes have to be estimated in each of the jurisdictions in which TeliaSonera operates. The process involves estimating the actual current tax exposure together with assessing temporary differences resulting from the different valuation of certain assets and liabilities in the financial statements and in the tax returns. Management must also assess the probability that the deferred tax assets will be recovered from future taxable income.
Valuation of intangible and other non-current assets
Intangible assets, and property, plant and equipment represent approximately 60 percent of TeliaSonera’s total assets.
Determination of the useful lives of asset classes involves taking into account historical trends and making assumptions related to future socio-economic and technological development and expected changes in market behavior. These assumptions are prepared by management and subject to review by the Audit Committee of the Board of Directors.
Currently, the following amortization and depreciation rates are applied.
||Individual evaluation, minimum 10 percent
|Telecom and frequency licenses, numbering rights
||Remaining license period, minimum 5 percent
|Interconnect and roaming agreements
||Agreement term, based on the remaining useful life of the related license
||Individual evaluation, based on historic and projected churn
|Capitalized development expenses
|Other intangible assets
||20–33 percent or individual evaluation
|Capitalized improvements on leased premises
||Remaining term of corresponding lease
|Mobile networks (base stations and other installations)
|– Switching systems and transmission systems
|– Transmission media (cable)
|– Equipment for special networks
|– Usufruct agreements of limited duration
||Agreement term or time corresponding to the underlying asset
|– Other installations
|Equipment, tools and installations
|Customer premises equipment under service arrangements
||33 percent, or agreement term if longer
In 2011 and 2010, amortization, depreciation and impairment losses totaled SEK 13,023 million and SEK 13,479 million, respectively. For additional information on intangible and tangible assets subject to amortization and depreciation and their carrying values as of the end of the reporting period see Note C13 “Goodwill and Other Intangible Assets” and Note C14 “Property, Plant and Equipment.”
A number of significant assumptions and estimates are involved when measuring value in use based on the expected future discounted cash flows attributable to an asset, for example with respect to factors such as market growth rates, revenue volumes, market prices for telecommunications services, costs to maintain and develop communications networks and working capital requirements. Forecasts of future cash flows are based on the best estimates of future revenues and operating expenses using historical trends, general market conditions, industry trends and forecasts and other available information. These assumptions are prepared by management and subject to review by the Audit Committee of the Board of Directors. The cash flow forecasts are adjusted by an appropriate discount rate derived from TeliaSonera’s cost of capital plus a reasonable risk premium at the date of evaluation. For additional information on goodwill and its carrying value as of the end of the reporting period, see Note C13 “Goodwill and Other Intangible Assets.”
Collectability of trade receivables
TeliaSonera’s allowance for doubtful receivables reflects estimated losses that result from the inability of customers to make required payments. Management determines the size of the allowance based on the likelihood of recoverability of accounts receivable taking into account actual losses in prior years and current collection trends. Should economic or specific industry trends worsen compared to management estimates, the allowance may have to be increased, negatively impacting earnings. See section “Credit risk management” in Note C27 “Financial Risk Management” for a description of how risks related to trade receivables are mitigated. For additional information on the allowance for doubtful receivables and its carrying value as of the end of the reporting period, see Note C18 “Trade and Other Receivables.”
Provisions for pensions and employment contracts
The most significant assumptions that management has to make in connection with the actuarial calculation of pension obligations and pension expenses affect the discount rate, the expected annual rate of compensation increase, the expected employee turnover rate, the expected average remaining working life, the expected annual income base amount increase (only for Swedish entities), the expected annual adjustments to pensions, and the expected annual return on plan assets. These assumptions are prepared by management and subject to review by the Audit Committee of the Board of Directors. A change in any of these key assumptions may have a significant impact on the projected benefit obligations, funding requirements and periodic pension cost. For additional information on assumptions made and on pension obligations and their present values as of the end of the reporting period, see Note C22 “Provisions for Pensions and Employment Contracts.”
Put options related to non-controlling interests, provisions for restructuring activities, contingent liabilities and litigation
The determination of redemption amounts for put options related to non-controlling interests involves management judgment and estimates of vital factors such as the likelihood of exercise of the option and the timing thereof, projected cash flows of the underlying operations, the weighted average cost of capital, etc. A change in any of these factors may have a significant impact on future results and cash flows.