Notes to the consolidated financial statementsas of December 31, 2020
Basis of preparation and accounting policies
1. General information on the company and accounting
United Internet AG (hereinafter referred to as the “United Internet Group” or the “Company”) is Europe’s leading internet specialist with its business divisions Access (landline and mobile internet access products) and Applications (applications for using the internet), which are each divided into Business and Consumer segments.
United Internet AG is domiciled in 56410 Montabaur, Elgendorfer Strasse 57, Germany and is registered there at the District Court under HR B 5762. The Group has numerous branches and subsidiaries in Germany and around the world.
The Consolidated Financial Statements of United Internet AG were prepared in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) as adopted by the European Union (EU) and the relevant supplementary regulations of section 315e (1) German Commercial Code (HGB).
The reporting currency is euro (€). Amounts stated in the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements are in euro (€), thousand euro (€k) or million euro (€m). The Consolidated Financial Statements are always drawn up on the basis of historical costs. The exception to this rule are individual financial instruments which are stated at fair value.
The reporting date is December 31, 2020.
The Supervisory Board approved the Consolidated Financial Statements for 2019 at its meeting on March 25, 2020. The Consolidated Financial Statements were published in the German Federal Gazette (“Bundesanzeiger”) on March 26, 2020.
The Consolidated Financial Statements for 2020 were prepared by the Company’s Management Board on March 19, 2021 and subsequently submitted to the Supervisory Board. The Consolidated Financial Statements will be presented to the Supervisory Board for approval on March 24, 2021. Theoretically, there may still be changes until the Consolidated Financial Statements are approved and released for publication by the Supervisory Board. However, the Management Board expects that the Consolidated Financial Statements will be approved in the present version. They are to be published on March 25, 2021.
2. Accounting and measurement principles
This section first presents all accounting policies which have been applied consistently in the periods presented in these Consolidated Financial Statements. Following this, those accounting standards applied for the first time in these financial statements are explained, as are those accounting standards recently published but not yet applied.
2.1 Explanation of main accounting and measurement methods
The Consolidated Financial Statements comprise the Annual Financial Statements of United Internet AG and of all domestic and foreign subsidiaries (majority shareholdings) controlled by it. Control exists when the Group has exposure, or rights, to variable returns from its involvement with the investee and has the ability to use its power over the investee to affect those returns. Specifically, the Group controls an investee if, and only if, it has all of the following characteristics:
- Power over the investee (i.e., the Group has the ability to direct those activities of the investee that have a significant effect on the investee’s returns based on existing rights
- Exposure to, or rights to, variable returns from its involvement with the investee
- The ability to use its power over the investee to affect its returns
Generally, holding a majority of the voting rights is presumed to result in control. To support this presumption, and when the Group does not have a majority of the voting rights or similar rights in an investee, the Group considers all relevant facts and circumstances in assessing whether it has power over the investee. These include, but are not limited to:
- Contractual arrangements with the other vote holders of the investee
- Rights arising from other contractual arrangements
- Voting rights and potential voting rights of the Group
- In the case of de facto control
De facto control is the case if the Group has the ability to influence the variable cash flows through its power over the investee. This assessment must be considered within the framework of the necessary overall evaluation. In the case of corporations, the shareholders’ meeting decides on variable returns. In the case of listed investments, de facto control may result from having the majority when attending general meetings. The Group bases its assessment of whether there is control due to majority presence on the average attendance at the general meetings of the past three years.
If the facts and circumstances indicate that one or more of the three elements of control have changed, the Group must reassess whether it controls an investee. A subsidiary is consolidated from the date on which the Group obtains control over the subsidiary. Consolidation ends when the Group loses control over the subsidiary. Assets, liabilities, income, and expenses of a subsidiary acquired or disposed of during the reporting period are recognized in the Consolidated Financial Statements from the date on which the Group obtains control over the subsidiary until the date on which control ends. All intercompany assets and liabilities, equity, income, and expenses, as well as cash flows from business transactions conducted between Group companies are fully eliminated during consolidation.
Profit or loss and each component of other comprehensive income (OCI) are attributed to the equity holders of the parent of the Group and to the non-controlling interests, even if this results in the non-controlling interests having a deficit balance. When necessary, adjustments are made to the financial statements of subsidiaries to bring their accounting policies in line with the Group’s accounting policies.
A change in the ownership interest of a subsidiary, without a loss of control, is accounted for as an equity transaction.
If the Group loses control over a subsidiary, it derecognizes the related assets (including goodwill), liabilities, non-controlling interest, and other components of equity, while any resultant gain or loss is recognized in profit or loss. Any investment retained is recognized at fair value.
Upon loss of control, a gain or loss from the disposal of the subsidiary is recognized in the Consolidated Statement of Comprehensive Income. This gain or loss is calculated as the difference between (i) the proceeds from the disposal of the subsidiary, the fair value of the remaining shares, the carrying amount of the non-controlling interests, and the cumulative amounts of other comprehensive income attributable to the subsidiary, and (ii) the carrying amount of the subsidiary’s net assets to be disposed of.
Non-controlling interests represent the proportion of the result and net assets which is not attributable to the Group’s shareholders. Non-controlling interests are disclosed separately in the Consolidated Balance Sheet. They are disclosed in the Consolidated Balance Sheet as part of shareholders’ equity, but separate to the equity capital attributable to the shareholders of United Internet AG. For purchases of shares without a controlling influence (minority shareholding) or disposals of shares with a controlling influence but without loss of the controlling influence, the carrying amounts of shares with or without a controlling influence are adjusted to reflect the change in the respective shareholding. The amount by which compensation paid or received for the change in shareholding exceeds the carrying value of the respective share without a controlling influence is recognized directly in equity as a transaction with the shareholders.
Revenue from contracts with customers
Revenue from contracts with customers is accounted for using the following five steps:
- Identification of the contract or contracts with a customer
- Identification of distinct performance obligations in the contract
- Determination of the transaction price
- Allocation of transaction price to the performance obligations
- Revenue recognition on fulfillment of performance obligations
Revenue is recognized separately for each of the Group’s different segments (see also explanations on segment reporting in Note 5).
Revenues in the separate segments are recognized according to the following principles:
Consumer Access segment
The Consumer Access segment mainly comprises landline-based and mobile-based internet access products. The range comprises “Mobile Internet” and “Broadband”.
In these product lines, the Group generates revenue from the provision of the aforementioned access products, as well as from additional services such as internet and mobile telephony. The transaction price consists of fixed monthly basic fees, as well as variable additional usage fees for certain services (e.g., for foreign calls and mobile phone connections not covered by any flat-rate), and proceeds from the sale of the respective hardware.
Revenue recognition is based on a separation of the transaction price for the customer contract on the basis of the relative standalone selling prices of the individual performance obligations. The United Internet Group generally offers comparable tariffs both with and without hardware. In these cases, the standalone selling price for the service component is therefore based on the tariff conditions of a service tariff without hardware. By contrast, the standalone selling prices for hardware are determined on the basis of the adjusted market assessment approach, as only a very small amount of the relevant hardware is sold to customers without a mobile contract.
The resulting revenue share allocated to hardware is recognized on delivery to the customer (time-related revenue recognition). It usually exceeds the fee invoiced to the customer and then results in the recognition of a contract asset. This contract asset value is reduced by the customer’s payments over the contract period. The revenue share allocated to the service component is recognized over the minimum term of the customer contract (period-related revenue recognition).
If the one-off fees invoiced to the customer on conclusion of the contract, such as activation fees, do not represent a material right (e.g., favorable renewal option), these are not recognized as a separate performance obligation but are allocated to the identified performance obligations as part of the transaction price and recognized in accordance with their performance. If the customer is granted material rights in the form of options to use additional goods or services, these represent an additional performance obligation to which part of the transaction price is allocated, taking into account the expected utilization. The corresponding revenue is recognized when these future goods or services are transferred or when the option expires. If one-off fees qualify as a favorable renewal option, revenue is recognized over the expected duration of the customer contract.
The United Internet Group grants its customers time-limited promotion discounts at the time of contract conclusion. These discounts are included in the calculation of the transaction price and are allocated to the performance obligations by means of an allocation mechanism.
Within the context of the 1&1 Principle, United Internet grants its customers a voluntary 30-day right of cancelation. If customers make use of the 1&1 Principle and cancel their contracts, they have the right to be reimbursed for individual transaction components, such as one-off fees and basic fees which have been invoiced. Any usage fees are excluded from the reimbursement claim. In return, United Internet has the right to demand the return of any hardware supplied. No revenue is recognized for expected customer cancelations. The payments received from the customer and to be reimbursed are carried as reimbursement liabilities and the claims for reimbursement resulting from the 1&1 Principle for delivered hardware are disclosed as non-financial assets.
In determining the transaction price, United Internet reviewed the materiality of a financing component. An analysis of the current customer contracts determined that no material benefit is to be assumed at present. However, a change in the assumed interest rates or tariffs could lead to a significant financing component in the future. The financing effect is therefore reviewed for materiality at regular intervals.
Business Access segment
The Business Access segment comprises revenue from various standardized and customized telecommunications products for business and wholesale customers. In addition to the provision of traditional landline connections, the telecommunications services also include broadband services, network solutions as telecommunications infrastructure (leased lines) or VPN, added-value services, interconnection, IP services, and cloud solutions.
In the case of products that do not meet the definition of a finance lease pursuant to IAS 17, the transaction price consists of fixed monthly basic fees and/or variable, additional per-minute usage fees for certain services (which are not covered by a flat rate) and, to an insignificant extent, revenue from the sale of related hardware. Revenue recognition is based on a separation of the transaction price for the customer contract on the basis of the relative standalone selling prices of the individual performance obligations. The transaction price for the sale of hardware is based on standard market prices. The standalone selling price for the service component is based on the tariff conditions of a comparable service tariff without hardware.
Temporary discounts or basic fee exemptions are also granted to a lesser extent at the beginning of the term. These discounts are included in the transaction price and allocated on a straight-line basis in the course of revenue recognition.
Certain products are provided on a lease basis. If all material opportunities and risks from a lease are transferred to the lessee, the present value of the minimum lease payments from this economic sale is recognized as revenue on commencement of the lease; as part of the subsequent accounting of finance lease receivables, interest income is recognized in subsequent periods. Leased assets are derecognized through cost of sales. In addition to the monthly payments, the minimum lease payments include any customer activation fees payable at the beginning of the lease term.
In the case of operating leases, where the lessor retains the material opportunities and risks, the lease payments are recognized as revenue on a straight-line basis over the lease term. Activation fees for operating leases are deferred and amortized over the lease term.
Consumer Applications segment
The Consumer Applications segment comprises United Internet’s consumer application business – whether ad-financed or via fee-based subscriptions –as well as the sales platforms for fee-based partner products.
Besides Germany, the United Internet Group also operates in Austria and the USA in this segment.
In the field of ad-financed applications (generally free e-mail solutions from GMX and WEB.DE), the Group generates advertising income and e-commerce commission mainly via the WEB.DE, 1&1, GMX, and smartshopping portals. This business is based on the frequent use of free applications and the correspondingly high number of hits for the portals. In the field of online advertising, space is offered on the websites of portals. Revenues are generated depending on the placing of advertising and number of screenings or according to click rates. In its e-commerce business, the Group receives commissions for the sale of products or brokerage of customers. For these products, revenue is recognized at a specific point in time.
In the field of fee-based subscriptions for the WEB.DE, 1&1, GMX, and smartshopping portals, revenue is mainly generated from fixed monthly fees for the use of extended applications, as well as for administration and storage. Customers generally pay in advance for a contractually fixed time period for the services to be provided by the Company. Revenue is recognized pro rata over the period of service provision. The payments received in advance result in contractual liabilities which are reduced accordingly over the performance period.
Revenues from partner products (affiliates) are recognized and measured according to the Group’s intermediary function. A distinction is made as to whether the delivery or service provided to the end customer results in delivery revenue and the Group is thus acting on its own account (principal) or whether the Group’s services are limited to brokerage or commission (agent). Acting as a principal is assumed if the Group controls the goods or services owed to the end customer before they are transferred to the customer. Acting as an agent is assumed if the Group’s performance obligation is basically to broker the supply of goods and services of another company.
Business Applications segment
In the Business Applications segment, a wide range of e-mail, hosting, cloud, and e-business applications are offered for freelancers, small and medium-sized businesses, and home users. These applications include domains, websites, and e-shops, Personal Information Management applications (e-mail, to-do lists, appointments, addresses), group work, online storage, and office software. The Group also offers its customers performance-based advertising and sales opportunities via Sedo.
In this segment, the United Internet Group is active in Germany, as well as in France, the UK, Spain, Austria, Switzerland, Poland, Italy, Canada, Mexico, and the USA. It is one of the leading companies in all the countries mentioned. The services are rendered by various subsidiaries of the United Internet Group in Germany and abroad.
Customers generally pay in advance for a contractually fixed time period for the services to be provided by the Company. The main service in the product group Domains consists of domain registration for the end customer with the respective registry. With regard to the time-related recognition of revenue from domain registration, the special regulations regarding licenses are applied. As in the case of domains, a right of use is granted to an intellectual property existing at the time the license is granted (static), revenue is recognized at a specific moment in time.
Product groups that contain domains as part of multiple-element arrangements primarily relate to web hosting products. The web hosting packages offered usually combine domain registrations with further services, such as storage capacity (Webspace) and software-as-a-service (SaaS). The service Webspace concerns the provision of storage space on servers at the data centers of the United Internet Group. SaaS refers to the customer’s use of software (e.g., to create websites) hosted on servers of the United Internet Group. Both the Webspace and SaaS services are performance obligations based on time periods, as the customer benefits continuously from the corresponding flow of benefits.
Customer contracts in the web hosting product category generally comprise several separate performance obligations, which are recognized both on a time-related basis (domain registration performance obligation) and a period-related basis (Webspace and SaaS performance obligation). The total fee for the customer contract is therefore allocated to the various performance obligations. In the absence of separate standalone selling prices for Webspace and SaaS, and a high degree of price variability, the residual method is used to allocate the total fee. The revenue share attributable to the period-related services is therefore determined on the basis of the total fee less the standalone selling price of the included domains.
In addition to application revenue, this segment also includes revenue from the performance-based advertising form of domain marketing.
In Domain Marketing, United Internet operates (via Sedo GmbH) a trading platform for the secondary domain market (domain trading). At the same time, the Group offers domain owners the possibility to market unused domains to advertisers (domain parking). In addition to these customer domains, the Group also holds its own portfolio of marketable and salable domains. In domain trading, the Group receives sales commission from the successful sale of domains via the platform and also generates revenue from services relating to domain value assessments and transfers. The sales commissions and services are generally based on a percentage of the sales price achieved, whereas fixed prices are generally charged for the other services. In domain parking, domains are mainly marketed using text links, i.e., links on the parked domains to offers of the advertisers (primarily via cooperation agreements with search engines). The Group receives performance-based payment on a monthly basis from the cooperation partner on a pay-per-click basis, according to the number of clicks registered by the cooperation partner.
The Group recognizes sales commissions as revenue when the service is rendered. Revenue is thus recognized on completion of the transaction or provision of the service. In the case of domain parking, the monthly payments credited by cooperation partners are recognized as revenue.
Disclosure of disposal gains and losses from the sale of investments
Insofar as they concern effects on the income statement, regular carrying amounts and valuations of investments in associated companies are disclosed in the financial result (see explanations on the financial result).
Gains from the sale of such investments are always disclosed under other operating income, losses under other operating expenses.
Foreign currency translation
The Consolidated Financial Statements are prepared in euro, the Company’s functional and presentation currency. Each company within the Group determines its own functional currency. The items in the annual financial statements of the respective company are valued using this functional currency. Foreign currency transactions are initially translated to the functional currency at the prevailing spot rate on the day of transaction. Monetary assets and liabilities in a foreign currency are translated to the functional currency on every reporting date using the closing rate. All currency differences are expensed in the income statement. The exception to this rule are currency differences resulting from foreign currency loans, providing they are used to hedge against a net investment in a foreign operation. These are recognized directly in equity until the net investment is sold and only recognized in profit or loss on disposal. Deferred taxes arising from such currency differences are also recognized directly in equity. Non-monetary items valued at historical cost in a foreign currency, are translated at the exchange rate prevailing on the day of the transaction. Non-monetary items stated at fair value in a foreign currency are translated at the ex-change rate prevailing at the time fair value was assessed. All goodwill items resulting from the acquisition of a foreign operation and all adjustments to fair value of the carrying amounts of assets and liabilities resulting from the acquisition of this foreign operation, are carried as assets and liabilities of the foreign operation and translated at the closing rate.
The assets and liabilities of foreign operations are translated into euro at the closing rate. Income and expenditure is translated at the exchange rate prevailing on the date of the transaction (for practical considerations, a weighted average rate is used for translation). The resulting translation differences are recognized separately in equity. The cumulative amount for a foreign operation which is stated in equity is reversed with an effect on the income statement when the foreign operation is sold.
The exchange rates of major currencies developed as follows:
(in relation to 1 €)
Dec. 31, 2020
Dec. 31, 2019
Property, plant and equipment
Property, plant and equipment is always carried at cost less cumulative scheduled depreciation.
Items of property, plant and equipment are eliminated either on their disposal or when no further economic use is expected from the continued use or sale of the asset. Gains and losses from the disposal of an asset are recognized in the income statement.
The residual values, useful lives and depreciation methods are reviewed at the end of each fiscal year and adjusted where necessary.
Property, plant and equipment assets are depreciated over their expected economic useful life using the straight-line method.
The useful life periods can be found in the following summary:
Useful life in years
up to 10
10 or 50
5 to 6
7 to 10
Other operational and office equipment
3 to 10
Office furniture and fixtures
5 to 13
3 to 5
For property, plant and equipment acquired in connection with company acquisitions, the applicable remaining useful life is determined primarily on the basis of the aforementioned useful lives and the useful lives elapsed at the time of acquisition.
Impairment tests and the recognition of impairment losses or reversals are conducted in the same way as for intangible assets with limited useful lives (see below).
Borrowing costs are expensed in the period in which they are incurred, unless they are connected with the production or purchase of a qualifying asset. As in the previous year, there was no need to capitalize borrowing costs during the reporting period.
Business combinations and goodwill
Business combinations are accounted for using the purchase method. This involves the recognition of all identifiable assets and liabilities of the acquired operation at fair value.
Goodwill arising from a business combination is initially measured at cost, being the excess of the acquisition cost of the operation over the fair value of the identifiable assets, liabilities, and contingent liabilities acquired. Following initial recognition, goodwill is valued at amortized cost. Goodwill is subjected to an impairment test at least once annually or whenever there is any event or change in circumstances which might indicate impairment.
In order to test whether there is any impairment, goodwill acquired in the course of a business combination must be allocated from the date of acquisition to each of the cash-generating units of the Group which are to profit from the synergy effects of the combination. This does not depend on whether other assets and liabilities of the Group are already allocated to these cash-generating units.
The impairment need is determined by comparing the recoverable amount of the cash-generating units to which goodwill refers with their carrying value. The recoverable amount of an asset, or a cash-generating unit, is the higher of fair value of the asset or cash-generating unit less transaction costs and its value-in-use. In order to determine the value-in-use, expected future cash flows are discounted to their present value using a pre-tax discount rate which reflects current market expectations regarding the interest effect and the specific risks of the asset. A suitable measurement model is used to determine fair value less sales costs. This is based on DCF models, valuation multipliers, the share prices of listed subsidiaries or other available indicators for fair value. If the carrying amount of an asset, or cash-generating unit, exceeds its recoverable amount, the asset, or cash-generating unit, is regarded as impaired and is written down to the recoverable amount. An impairment loss recognized for goodwill may not be reversed in the following reporting periods. The Group performs its annual impairment test for goodwill at the end of the reporting period.
The Group has control over an asset if it is able to obtain the future economic benefits flowing from the underlying resource and can restrict the access of third parties to these benefits. Individually acquired intangible assets are carried at cost on initial recognition. The acquisition cost of intangible assets resulting from the business combination corresponds to its fair value at the time of acquisition. In the following periods, intangible assets are valued at cost less cumulative amortization and cumulative impairment charges. With the exception of those development costs which can be capitalized, costs for internally generated intangible assets are expensed in the period incurred.
Development costs for a single project are only capitalized as intangible assets if the Group can demonstrate the following:
- The completion of the intangible asset can be technically realized to the extent that it can be used or sold;
- United Internet intends to complete the intangible asset and to use or sell it;
- United Internet has the ability to use or sell the intangible asset;
- The way in which the intangible asset is expected to generate future economic benefits; United Internet may demonstrate, for example, the existence of a market for the products of the intangible asset or for the intangible asset itself or, if it is to be used internally, the usefulness of the intangible asset;
- Adequate technical, financial, and other resources are available so that the development can be completed and the intangible asset can be used or sold;
- United Internet has the ability to reliably measure the expenditure attributable to the intangible asset during its development.
A distinction is made between usable intangible assets with finite and indefinite useful lives and intangible assets which are not yet usable (spectrum licenses).
Intangible assets with limited useful lives are amortized over their economic useful life and tested for possible impairment if there is any indication that the asset may be impaired. Intangible assets that are not yet usable are also tested for possible impairment. The impairment test is conducted in the same way as for goodwill. The useful lives and amortization methods of intangible assets with limited useful lives are reviewed at least at the end of each fiscal year. Necessary changes to the depreciation method and useful life are treated as changes to assumptions. Amortization of intangible assets with limited useful lives are recognized in the income statement under the expense category corresponding to the function of the intangible asset in the Company.
Amortization of capitalized development costs begins from the point in time at which the asset can be used. It is recognized in cost of sales over the period during which future benefits are expected. An impairment test is performed annually during the development phase.
Intangible assets with indefinite useful lives, as well as intangible assets not yet usable, are not amortized in scheduled amounts. Instead, an impairment test is performed at least once annually at the end of the reporting period for the individual asset or on the level of the cash-generating unit. The impairment test is conducted in the same way as for goodwill. The useful life of an intangible asset with an indefinite useful life is reviewed annually to ascertain whether the assumption of an indefinite useful life is still justified. If this is not the case, a prospective change is made from indefinite useful life to limited useful life. Amortization of intangible assets which are not yet usable (spectrum licenses) will begin at the time of actual network operation.
The useful life periods can be found in the following summary:
Useful life in years
4 to 25
up to 20
Rights similar to concessions
Other rights and licenses
2 to 15
3 to 5
Internally generated intangible assets
3 to 5
A review is also conducted on each reporting date to determine whether there is any indication that a previously recognized impairment loss no longer exists or has decreased in size. In the case of such an indication, the Group makes an estimate of the recoverable amount. A previously recognized impairment loss is only reversed if there has been a change in the assumption used to determine the recoverable amount since recognition of the last impairment loss. If this is the case, the asset’s carrying value is raised to its recoverable amount. This amount may not exceed the carrying amount, less depreciation, that would have been determined had no impairment loss been recognized for the asset in prior years.
Investments in associated companies
Investments in associated companies are valued according to the equity method. An associated company is an entity over which the Group has significant influence and that is neither a subsidiary nor an interest in a joint venture. Significant influence is the power to participate in the financial and operating policy decisions of the associated company, but not to control or jointly steer the decision-making processes.
In the case of successive acquisition of company shares, the carrying amount is measured using the equity method as of the date on which the prerequisites for accounting as an associated company are met. United Internet measures the old shares in the case of successive share purchases according to the retrospective method (cost-based approach). The original purchase cost of the old shares is included as acquisition cost using the equity method. Unrealized gains or losses previously recognized in the revaluation reserve are not considered.
Using the equity method, investments in associated companies are carried in the balance sheet at cost as adjusted for post-acquisition changes in the Company’s share of the net assets of the associated company. Goodwill connected with an associated company is included in the carrying value of the investment and not subjected to scheduled amortization. The income statement includes the Company’s portion of the success of the associated company. Changes recognized directly in the equity capital of the associated company are recognized by the Company in proportion to its shareholding and – where applicable – reported in “Changes in shareholders’ equity”. Profits and losses from transactions between the Company and the associated company are eliminated in proportion to the shareholding in the associated company.
Upon loss of significant influence, a gain or loss from the disposal of the associated company is recognized in the amount of the difference between (i) the proceeds from the disposal of the shares, the fair value of the remaining shares, and the cumulative amounts of other comprehensive income attributable to the associated company, and (ii) the carrying amount of the investment to be disposed of.
The annual financial statements of the associated company are generally prepared as to the same reporting date as those of the parent company. Where necessary, adjustments are made to bring the methods in line with standard group-wide accounting and measurement methods.
After application of the equity method, the Group ascertains whether it is necessary to recognize an additional impairment loss for the Company’s investments in associated companies. If there is objective evidence that an impairment has occurred, an impairment test is carried out in the same way as for goodwill. Objective evidence exists, for example, if an associate is experiencing significant financial difficulties, has committed breaches of contract, is highly likely to become insolvent, requires restructuring, or an active market for the net investment ceases to exist because of the financial difficulties of the associate. A significant or prolonged decline in the fair value of an associate below cost also constitutes objective evidence of impairment. A significant decline is assumed if the decrease in the fair value of an associate at the end of the reporting period is more than 25% of cost. This shall not apply if in exceptional cases the circumstances at that time clearly indicate that there is no impairment.
An impairment loss is recognized when the recoverable amount is less than the associate's total carrying amount. Impairment losses are recognized in the statement of comprehensive income in the result from companies accounted for using the equity method. If the recoverable amount increases in future periods, the impairment loss is reversed accordingly.
A contract asset is the Group’s right to consideration in exchange for goods or services it has transferred to a customer when that right is conditioned on something other than the passage of time. Every unconditional right to consideration is disclosed separately as a receivable. Contract assets are regularly assessed for impairment. The procedure is the same as for financial assets.
A contract liability is the Group’s obligation to transfer goods or services to a customer for which the Group has received consideration (or the amount is due) from the customer. If a customer provides consideration before the Group has transferred goods or services to the customer, a contractual liability is recognized at the time of payment or at the latest at the time when the payment becomes due. Contractual liabilities are recognized as revenue as soon as the Group fulfills the contractual obligations.
Contract initiation and contract fulfillment costs
Additional costs incurred in initiating a contract with a customer (e.g., sales commissions) are capitalized if the Group expects to recover these costs.
In addition, the Group capitalizes the costs incurred in fulfilling a contract with a customer (e.g., customer activation fees and expected termination fees) if these costs are
- not within the scope of a standard other than IFRS 15 (e.g., IAS 2 Inventories, IAS 16 Property, Plant, and Equipment or IAS 38 Intangible Assets),
- related to an existing or expected contract,
- for the creation of resources or the improvement of resources of the Company that will be used in the future for the (continued) fulfillment of performance obligations, and
- likely to lead to an expected settlement of the costs.
Capitalized contract initiation and fulfillment costs are amortized over the estimated period of use. They are recognized in the balance sheet within deferred expenses. The amortization of contract initiation costs is disclosed in selling expenses and the amortization of contract fulfillment costs is disclosed in cost of sales.
The amortization periods for contract initiation costs are 1 to 5 years and for contract fulfillment costs 3 to 4 years.
An impairment loss is recognized if the carrying amount of the capitalized costs exceeds the remaining amount of the customer’s expected consideration for the delivery of goods or the rendering of services less the costs still to be incurred.
Classification as current and non-current
The Group classifies its assets and liabilities in the balance sheet as current and non-current assets and liabilities. An asset is classified as current if
- the asset is expected to be realized within the normal operating cycle or the asset is held for sale or consumption within that period,
- the asset is held primarily for the purpose of trading,
- the asset is expected to be realized within twelve months after the reporting date or
- the asset is cash or a cash equivalent, unless restricted from being exchanged or used to settle a liability for a period of at least twelve months after the reporting date.
All other assets are classified as non-current.
A liability is current if
- it is expected to be settled within the normal operating cycle
- it is held primarily for the purpose of trading
- it is due to be settled within twelve months after the end of the reporting period or
- the Group has no unconditional right to defer the settlement of the liability for at least twelve months after the reporting period.
All other liabilities are classified as non-current.
Deferred tax assets and liabilities are classified as non-current assets and liabilities.
Non-current assets held for sale
The Group classifies non-current assets and disposal groups as held for sale if their carrying amounts will be recovered principally through a sale transaction rather than through continuing use. Non-current assets and disposal groups classified as held for sale are measured at the lower of their carrying amount and fair value less costs to sell. Costs to sell are the incremental costs directly attributable to the disposal of an asset (disposal group), excluding finance costs and income tax expense.
The criteria for held for sale classification is regarded as met only when the sale is highly probable and the asset or disposal group is available for immediate sale in its present condition. Actions required to complete the sale should indicate that it is unlikely that significant changes to the sale will be made or that the decision to sell will be withdrawn. Management must be committed to the plan to sell the asset and the sale expected to be completed within one year from the date of the classification.
Assets and liabilities classified as held for sale are presented separately as current items in the balance sheet.
Fair value measurement
In some cases, assets and liabilities are measured either on initial recognition or during subsequent valuations at fair value.
Fair value is the price that would be received to sell an asset or paid to transfer a liability in an orderly transaction between market participants at the measurement date. Fair value measurement is based on the assumption that the transaction to sell the asset or transfer the liability takes place either:
- in the principal market for the asset or liability, or
- in the absence of a principal market, in the most advantageous market for the asset or liability.
The principal or the most advantageous market must be accessible for the Group.
The fair value of an asset or a liability is measured using the assumptions that market participants would use when pricing the asset or liability, assuming that market participants act in their economic best interest.
Fair value measurement of a non-financial asset takes into account a market participant’s ability to generate economic benefits by using the asset in its highest and best use or by selling it to another market participant that would use the asset in its highest and best use.
The Group uses measurement techniques that are appropriate in the circumstances and for which sufficient data are available to measure fair value, maximizing the use of relevant observable inputs and minimizing the use of unobservable inputs.
All assets and liabilities for which fair value is measured or disclosed in the financial statements are categorized within the fair value hierarchy, described as follows, based on the lowest level input that is significant to the fair value measurement as a whole:
- Level 1 – quoted (unadjusted) market prices in active markets for identical assets or liabilities
- Level 2 – measurement techniques for which the lowest level input that is significant to the fair value measurement is directly or indirectly observable
- Level 3 — measurement techniques for which the lowest level input that is significant to the fair value measurement is unobservable.
For assets and liabilities that are recognized in the financial statements on a recurring basis, the Group determines whether transfers have occurred between levels in the hierarchy by re-assessing categorization (based on the lowest level input that is significant to the fair value measurement as a whole) at the end of each reporting period.
For the purpose of fair value disclosures, the Group has determined classes of assets and liabilities on the basis of the nature, characteristics, and risks of the asset or liability and the level of the fair value hierarchy as explained above.
United Internet acts as both lessee and lessor. The majority of the Group’s lessee contracts relate to the renting of network infrastructure, buildings, technical equipment and vehicles. In the case of buildings, various rental objects/leased items such as space (office space, computer center space, storage space or parking space etc.) may be listed as contractual objects (i.e. for rental by UI). The rented network infrastructure mainly comprises unlit fiber-optic cable (dark fiber), empty conduit systems, copper twin wires, and leases of subscriber lines (local loops).
The determination of whether an arrangement contains a lease is based on the economic substance of the arrangement at the time of signing and requires an assessment of whether the fulfillment of the arrangement is dependent on the use of a specific asset or assets and the arrangement conveys a right to use the asset.
The Group assesses at contract inception whether a contract is, or contains, a lease. That is, if the contract conveys the right to control the use of an identified asset for a period of time in exchange for consideration.
The Group applies a single recognition and measurement approach for all leases, except for short-term leases and leases of low-value assets. The Group recognizes lease liabilities to make lease payments and right-of-use assets representing the right to use the underlying assets.
Group as lessee
The Group recognizes right-of-use assets at the commencement date of the lease (i.e., the date the underlying asset is available for use). Right-of-use assets are measured at cost, less any accumulated depreciation and impairment losses, and adjusted for any remeasurement of lease liabilities. The cost of right-of-use assets includes the amount of lease liabilities recognized, initial direct costs incurred, and lease payments made at or before the commencement date less any lease incentives received. The Group determines the lease term as the non-cancellable basic term of the lease, together with any periods covered by an option to extend the lease if it is reasonably certain to be exercised, or any periods covered by an option to terminate the lease if it is reasonably certain not to be exercised.
Right-of-use assets are depreciated on a straight-line basis over the shorter of the lease term and the estimated useful lives of the assets, as follows:
Useful life in years
1 to 17
0.5 to 25
Operating and office equipment
1 to 7
If ownership of the leased asset transfers to the Group at the end of the lease term or the cost reflects the exercise of a purchase option, depreciation is calculated using the estimated useful life of the asset.
At the commencement date of the lease, the Group recognizes lease liabilities measured at the present value of lease payments to be made over the lease term. The lease payments include fixed payments (including de facto fixed payments) less any lease incentives receivable, variable lease payments that depend on an index or a rate, and amounts expected to be paid under residual value guarantees. The lease payments also include the exercise price of a purchase option reasonably certain to be exercised by the Group and payments of penalties for terminating the lease, if the lease term reflects the Group exercising the option to terminate. Variable lease payments that do not depend on an index or a rate are recognized as expenses (unless they are incurred to produce inventories) in the period in which the event or condition that triggers the payment occurs.
After the commencement date, the amount of lease liabilities is increased to reflect the accretion of interest and reduced for the lease payments made. In addition, the carrying amount of lease liabilities is remeasured if there is a modification, a change in the lease term, a change in the lease payments (e.g., changes to future payments resulting from a change in an index or rate used to determine such lease payments) or a change in the assessment of an option to purchase the underlying asset.
The incremental borrowing rate is used to measure right-of-use assets and lease liabilities. The incremental borrowing rate is determined on the basis of reference interest rates for a period of up to 17 years from risk-free interest rates with appropriate maturities, increased by credit risk premiums.
Short-term leases, leases of low-value assets, and other policy choices
The standard includes exemptions from accounting according to IFRS 16 in the case of short-term leases (e.g., leases with a term of 12 months or less) and leases of low-value assets (e.g., PCs) for which right-of-use assets are not recognized. IFRS 16 is to be initially applied in fiscal year beginning on or after January 1, 2019. United Internet only has a small amount short-term leases, which are thus not capitalized according to IFRS 16 for reasons of materiality. In the case of leases of low-value assets – which only exist to a limited extent – the Group opts not to carry them according to IFRS 16 on a case-by-case basis. Lease payments on short-term leases and leases of low- value assets are recognized as expense on a straight-line basis over the lease term.
There is an option to form a portfolio of contracts with the same or similar characteristics. This option has been used for the asset classes subscriber lines (local loop) and main distribution frame locations (MDFs).
The option to recognize each lease component of a contract and all related non-lease components as a single lease component is applied for the asset classes underlying fiber-optic, MDFs, and cars, but not to lease arrangements for buildings.
Group as lessor
In those cases where Group companies agree finance leases as the lessor, a receivable is recognized at an amount equal to the net investment in the lease. The lease payments are apportioned between repayment of principal and finance income.
If the Group bears all substantial risks and rewards (operating lease), the leased asset is recognized in the balance sheet by the lessor. Measurement of the leased asset is then based on the accounting policies applicable to that asset. The lease payments are recognized in profit or loss by the lessor.
A financial instrument is any contract that gives rise to a financial asset of one entity and a financial liability or equity instrument of another entity.
Financial assets – initial recognition and measurement
With the exception of trade accounts receivable that do not contain a significant financing component or have a maturity of less than one year, the Group initially measures a financial asset at its fair value plus, in the case of a financial asset not subsequently measured at fair value through profit or loss, directly attributable transaction costs. Trade accounts receivable that do not contain a significant financing component or have a maturity of less than one year are measured at the transaction price. In this context, reference is made to the accounting policies in the section Revenue Recognition – Revenue from Contracts with Customers.
Purchases or sales of financial assets that provide for delivery of the assets within a period determined by the rules or conventions of the respective market (standard market purchases) are recognized as of the trading date, i.e., the date on which the Group commits to purchase or sell the asset.
Financial assets – subsequent measurement
For subsequent measurement purposes, the classification of financial assets on initial recognition depends on the characteristics of the contractual cash flows of the financial assets and the Group’s business model for managing financial assets. For subsequent measurement, financial assets are classified in three categories:
- Financial assets (debt instruments) at amortized cost (ac)
- Financial assets (equity instruments) at fair value through other comprehensive income with no recycling of cumulative gains and losses upon derecognition (fvoci)
- Financial assets at fair value through profit or loss (fvtpl)
Financial assets at amortized cost (debt instruments)
The Group measures financial assets at amortized cost if both of the following conditions are met:
- the financial asset is held within a business model with the objective to hold financial assets in order to collect contractual cash flows, and
- the contractual terms of the financial asset give rise on specified dates to cash flows that are solely payments of principal and interest on the principal amount outstanding.
Financial assets at amortized cost are subsequently measured using the effective interest method and are subject to impairment. Gains and losses are recognized in profit or loss when the asset is derecognized, modified or impaired.
Financial assets at fair value through other comprehensive income (equity instruments) with no recycling of cumulative gains and losses upon derecognition
Upon initial recognition, the Group can elect to classify irrevocably its equity investments as equity instruments designated at fair value through other comprehensive income if they meet the definition of equity under IAS 32 Financial Instruments: Presentation and are not held for trading. The classification is determined on an instrument-by-instrument basis.
Gains and losses on these financial assets are never recycled to profit or loss. Dividends are recognized as other income in the income statement when the right of payment has been established, unless the dividends recover part of the cost of the financial asset. In this case, such gains are recognized in other comprehensive income. Equity instruments measured at fair value through other comprehensive income are not subject to impairment assessment.
Financial assets at fair value through profit or loss
Financial assets at fair value through profit or loss include financial assets held for trading, financial assets designated upon initial recognition at fair value through profit or loss, or financial assets mandatorily required to be measured at fair value. Financial assets must be classified as held for trading if they are acquired for the purpose of selling or repurchasing in the near term. Derivatives, including separated embedded derivatives, are also classified as held for trading. Financial assets with cash flows that are not solely payments of principal and interest are also classified and measured at fair value through profit or loss, irrespective of the business model. Debt instruments may also be designated at fair value through profit or loss on initial recognition if doing so eliminates, or significantly reduces, an accounting mismatch.
A derivative embedded in a hybrid contract, with a financial liability or non-financial host, is separated from the host and accounted for as a separate derivative if the economic characteristics and risks of the embedded derivative are not closely related to the host, a separate instrument with the same terms as the embedded derivative would meet the definition of a derivative, and the hybrid contract is not measured at fair value through profit or loss.
Financial assets at fair value through profit or loss are carried in the balance sheet at fair value with net changes in fair value recognized in the income statement. Dividends on listed equity investments are also recognized as other income in the income statement when the right of payment has been established.
Financial assets – derecognition
A financial asset (or part of a financial asset, or part of a group of similar financial assets) is primarily derecognized (i.e., removed from the Consolidated Balance Sheet) if one of the following conditions is met:
- The rights to receive cash flows from the financial asset have expired.
- The Group has transferred its rights to receive cash flows from the asset or has assumed an obligation to pay the received cash flows in full without material delay to a third party under a ‘pass-through’ arrangement; and either (a) the Group has transferred substantially all the risks and rewards of the asset, or (b) the Group has neither transferred nor retained substantially all the risks and rewards of the asset, but has transferred control of the asset.
When the Group has transferred its rights to receive cash flows from an asset or has entered into a pass-through arrangement, it evaluates if, and to what extent, it has retained the risks and rewards of ownership. When it has neither transferred nor retained substantially all of the risks and rewards of the asset, nor transferred control of the asset, the Group continues to recognize the transferred asset to the extent of its continuing involvement. In that case, the Group also recognizes an associated liability. The transferred asset and the associated liability are measured on a basis that reflects the rights and obligations that the Group has retained.
The gains and losses recognized in other comprehensive income for a financial asset measured at fair value in other comprehensive income are reclassified to cumulative profit or loss. In the case of a pro rata disposal, a pro rata transfer is made.
Impairment of financial assets
For trade accounts receivable and contract assets, the Group applies a simplified (one-step) method for calculating expected credit losses, whereby a loss allowance based on expected credit losses over the remaining term is recognized at each reporting date.
Expectations of future credit losses are formed on the basis of regular reviews and measurements as part of credit monitoring. Historical data is regularly used to derive relationships between credit losses and various factors (e.g., payment agreement, overdue period, dunning level etc.). On the basis of these relationships, supplemented by current observations and forward-looking assumptions regarding the portfolio of receivables and contract assets held as of the reporting date, an estimate of future credit losses is made.
The Group recognizes an allowance for expected credit losses for all debt instruments which are not held at fair value through profit or loss and are not trade accounts receivable. Expected credit losses are based on the difference between the contractual cash flows due in accordance with the contract and all the cash flows that the Group expects to receive, discounted at an approximation of the original effective interest rate. The expected cash flows include cash flows from the sale of collateral held or other credit enhancements that are integral to the contractual terms. Expected credit losses are recognized in two stages. For financial instruments for which there has not been a significant increase in credit risk since initial recognition, a loss allowance is recognized in the amount of the expected credit losses based on a default event within the next twelve months. For those financial instruments for which there has been a significant increase in credit risk since initial recognition, a loss allowance is recognized in the amount of the credit losses expected over the remaining life of the exposure, irrespective of the timing of the default.
The Group’s operating business is mainly in the mass customer business. Default risks are thus taken into account by means of individual value adjustments and lump-sum individual value adjustments. The specific bad debt allowances for overdue receivables are mainly based on the age structure of the receivables with different valuation discounts, which are mainly derived from the success rates of those collection agencies commissioned to collect overdue receivables. The age structure of receivables is shown in Note 19. All receivables that are more than 365 days overdue are written down individually by 100%. Fully impaired trade accounts receivable are derecognized 180 days after collection has been handed over to the collection agency, unless the agency has given positive feedback or payment for an impaired receivable is unexpectedly received, or if the customer’s inability to pay is known before or after transfer to the collection agencies.
Impairment charges in connection with non-current loans to affiliates are recognized in the financial result.
Further details on the impairment of trade accounts receivable and contract assets are provided in the following Notes:
- Significant accounting judgments, estimates, and assumptions (Note 3)
- Trade accounts receivable (Note 19)
- Contract assets (Note 20)
- Objectives and methods of financial risk management (Note 43)
Financial liabilities - initial recognition and measurement
On initial recognition, financial liabilities are classified as financial liabilities measured at fair value through profit or loss, or as financial liabilities measured at amortized cost.
All financial liabilities are recognized initially at fair value and, in the case of financial liabilities measured at amortized cost, net of directly attributable transaction costs.
Financial liabilities – subsequent measurement
The subsequentmeasurement of financial liabilities depends on their classification:
Financial liabilities at fair value through profit or loss
This category also includes derivative financial instruments entered into by the Group. Separated embedded derivatives are also classified as held for trading. Gains or losses on financial liabilities held for trading are recognized through profit or loss.
Financial liabilities at amortized cost
After initial recognition, financial liabilities classified at amortized cost are subsequently measured using the effective interest method. Amortized cost is calculated by taking into account any discount or premium on acquisition and fees or costs that are an integral part of the effective interest rate. Amortization using the effective interest method is included as part of finance costs in the income statement.
Financial liabilities - derecognition
A financial liability is derecognized when the obligation under the liability is discharged, canceled or expires. When an existing financial liability is replaced by another from the same lender on substantially different terms, or the terms of an existing liability are substantially modified, such an exchange or modification is treated as the derecognition of the original liability and the recognition of a new liability. The difference in the respective carrying amounts is recognized in the income statement. If the exchange or modification is not accounted for as an extinguishment, any costs or fees incurred result in an adjustment to the carrying amount of the liability and are amortized over the remaining life of the liability.
Offsetting of financial instruments
Financial assets and financial liabilities are offset and the net amount is reported in the Consolidated Balance Sheet if there is a currently enforceable legal right to offset the recognized amounts and there is an intention to settle on a net basis, or to realize the assets and settle the liabilities simultaneously.
Financial instruments – derivative financial instruments and hedging relationships
The Group occasionally uses derivative financial instruments in order to hedge against interest and exchange rate risks. Derivative financial instruments are recognized at fair value on the date of the agreement and carried at fair value in the subsequent periods. The fair value of interest derivatives is calculated on the basis of present value models using market information (interest rate curves) as well as – where material – the individual credit risk of the Company. Derivative financial instruments are recognized as assets if their fair value is positive and as liabilities if their fair value is negative. Profit or loss resulting from changes in the fair value of derivative financial instruments are recognized immediately in the income statement.
When entering into a hedging relationship to hedge against the risk of cash flow fluctuations, certain derivatives are allocated to underlying transactions which can be attributed to a risk connected with a recognized asset or liability or the risk connected with the intended transaction (cash flow hedge). The hedging instruments in a hedge are also carried at market values. However, changes in value relating to the effective portion are recognized in the cash flow hedge reserve, a separate item under equity (“Cash flow hedge reserve”). Any ineffectiveness is recognized in profit or loss. Effectiveness is measured as at the end of the reporting period using the hypothetical derivative method. The amounts recognized in equity are reclassified to the statement of comprehensive income in the period in which the hedge influences the period result, e.g., when hedged financial income or expenses are recognized or when an expected sale is made.
Inventories are valued at the lower of cost and net realizable value. Net realizable value comprises the estimated sales proceeds, realizable in the ordinary course of business, less estimated necessary selling costs. Adequate allowances for excess inventories are made to provide for inventory risks.
Measurement is also based in part on time-related writedowns for inventories. Both the size and distribution over time of such writedowns represents a best-possible estimation of net realizable value and are thus subject to uncertainties. On indication of decreased net realizable value, inventories are corrected by recognizing suitable impairment charges.
Treasury shares are deducted from shareholders’ equity. The purchase, sale, issue or retirement of treasury shares is not recognized in the income statement.
The cancelation of treasury shares results in the pro rata reversal of the item “Treasury shares” disclosed in shareholders’ equity at the expense of the remaining shareholders’ equity. The Group uses the following application sequence:
- The cancelation of treasury shares is always deducted from share capital in the amount of the par value.
- The amount exceeding par value is first derecognized in the amount of the value contribution from employee stock ownership plans (SARs and convertible bonds) against capital reserves.
- Any amount exceeding the value contribution from employee stock ownership plans is derecognized against accumulated profit.
Cash and cash equivalents
Cash and cash equivalents consist of bank balances, other investments, checks and cash in hand, which all have a high degree of liquidity and maturities of less than 3 months – calculated from the date of purchase.
Cash and cash equivalents are measured at cost.
Pensions and other post-employment benefits
Payments to defined contribution retirement benefit plans are expensed on payment of salary to the employee.
Provisions are formed if the Group has a current (legal or actual) obligation resulting from a past event which will probably give rise to the outflow of resources with an economic benefit to fulfill the obligation, provided that the level of the obligation can be reliably estimated. Such estimates are subject to significant uncertainties. If the Group expects at least partial compensation for a recognized provision (e.g., in the case of an insurance policy), this compensation is recognized as a separate asset if the reimbursement is virtually certain. The expense from forming the provision is recognized in the income statement after deducting the reimbursement. If the interest effect from discounting is significant, provisions are discounted at a pre-tax interest rate which reflects the specific risk of the debt, if so required by the individual case. In the event of a discount, the increase in provisions caused by the passage of time is recognized as a financial expense.
Group employees and Management Board members receive share-based payments as remuneration for their work in the form of equity instruments and the granting of value growth rights, which may be settled in cash or via equity instruments at the Company’s discretion. As the United Internet Group has no agreements with a current obligation for cash settlement, all share-based payment transactions are carried in the balance sheet as equity-settled payment transactions.
The cost of granting equity instruments is measured using the fair value of such equity instruments on the date of granting. Fair value is measured using a suitable option price model. With the aid of the respective measurement process, the value component is determined at the time of granting, also for subsequent measurement until the end of the term. On every measurement date, however, the expected exercise volume is to be reassessed with a corresponding adjustment of the additional amount under consideration of additions already made. Any necessary adjustment bookings are to be made in the period in which new information about the exercise volume becomes available. The measurement of cost from the granting of equity instruments and the corresponding increase in equity occurs over the period in which the vesting or performance conditions have to be satisfied (the so-called vesting period). This period ends after the vesting date, i.e., the date on which the employee concerned has gained irrevocable entitlement. The cumulative expenses recognized on each reporting date for equity-settled transactions until the vesting date reflect the extent to which the vesting period has expired and the number of equity instruments which, according to the Group’s best-possible estimate, will actually be vested after the vesting period. The income or expense recognized in the income statement represents the development of cumulative expenses recognized at the beginning and end of the reporting period. No expense is recognized for payment rights which are not vested.
When new equity instruments are granted as a result of the cancelation of previously granted equity instruments, IFRS 2.28(c) requires an entity to assess whether the newly granted equity instruments are a replacement for the previously granted or canceled instruments.
If they are classified as a replacement, the new equity instruments are accounted for in the same way as an amendment to the original instruments granted. New equity instruments that are not granted as a replacement for canceled equity instruments are accounted for as newly granted equity instruments. The benefits received are recognized at least at the fair value determined on the grant date (of the original instruments). If the amendments are beneficial to the employee, the additional fair value of the new equity instruments is measured and allocated over the vesting period as an additional expense. The additional fair value is measured as the difference between the fair value of the equity instruments identified as a replacement and the net fair value of the canceled equity instruments on the date on which the replacement instruments are granted.
Earnings per share
Undiluted or basic earnings per share are calculated by dividing the result attributable to the holders of registered shares by the weighted average number of shares outstanding during the period.
Diluted earnings per share are calculated similarly to basic earnings per share with the exception that the average number of shares outstanding increases by the portion which would result if the exercisable subscription rights resulting from employee stock participation programs had been exercised.
In addition, undiluted and diluted earnings per share are disclosed separately for continued and discontinued operations.
Interest income is recognized as interest accrues (using the effective interest rate, i.e., the rate which discounts estimated future cash receipts through the expected life of the financial instrument to the net carrying amount of the financial asset). Dividend income is recognized with the inception of the legal right to payment.
Government grants are recognized where there is reasonable certainty that the grant will be received and the Company will satisfy all attaching conditions. Where the grants relate to an expense item, they are recognized as income in scheduled amounts over the period necessary to match the grants to the costs they are intended to compensate. Grants relating to an asset item reduce the carrying value of that item.
Current income tax and deferred taxes
The tax expense for a period comprises current taxes and deferred taxes. Taxes are recognized in the income statement, unless they relate to transactions that are recognized in other comprehensive income or directly in equity. In these cases, taxes are recognized accordingly in other comprehensive income or directly in equity.
Current taxes are valued at the amount at which a refund from the tax authorities or a payment to the tax authorities is expected. The amount is calculated on the basis of the tax rates and tax laws applicable on the reporting date in those countries in which the Group operates and generates taxable income, or which will soon apply.
The liability method is used to create deferred taxes on all temporary differences existing on the reporting date between the carrying value of an asset or a liability in the balance sheet and the fiscal carrying value.
Deferred tax liabilities are recognized for all taxable temporary differences, except:
- where the deferred tax liability from initial recognition of goodwill or of an asset or liability in a transaction that is not a business combination and, at the time of the transaction, affects neither the profit according to IFRS nor taxable profit or loss, and
- in respect of taxable temporary differences associated with investments in subsidiaries, associated companies, and interests in joint ventures, where the timing of the reversal of the temporary differences can be controlled and it is probable that the temporary differences will not reverse in the foreseeable future.
Deferred tax assets are recognized for all deductible temporary differences, carryforward of unused tax credits and unused tax losses, to the extent that it is probable that taxable profit will be available against which the deductible temporary differences, and the carryforward of unused tax credits and unused tax losses can be utilized, except:
- where the deferred tax asset relating to the deductible temporary difference arises from the initial recognition of an asset or liability in a transaction that is not a business combination and, at the time of the transaction, affects neither the profit or loss according to IFRS nor taxable profit or loss, and
- in respect of taxable temporary differences associated with investments in subsidiaries, associated companies, and interests in joint ventures, deferred tax assets are recognized only to the extent that it is probable that the temporary differences will reverse in the foreseeable future and taxable profit will be available against which the temporary differences can be utilized.
The carrying value of deferred tax assets is reviewed at each reporting date and reduced to the extent that it is no longer probable that sufficient taxable profit will be available to allow all or part of the deferred tax asset to be utilized. Unrecognized deferred tax assets are reassessed at each reporting date and are recognized to the extent that it has become probable that future taxable profit will allow the deferred tax asset to be recovered.
Deferred tax assets and liabilities are measured at the tax rates that are expected to apply to the year when the asset is realized or the liability is settled, based on tax rates (and tax laws) that have been enacted as of the reporting date.
Deferred tax assets and deferred tax liabilities are offset, if a legally enforceable right exists to set off current tax assets against current tax liabilities and the deferred taxes relate to the same taxable entity and the same taxation authority.
Expenses and assets are recognized net of the amount of sales tax, except for the following cases:
- When the sales tax incurred on a purchase of assets or services is not recoverable from the taxation authority, in which case, the sales tax is recognized as part of the cost of acquisition of the asset or as part of the expense item, as applicable.
- When receivables and payables are stated with the amount of sales tax included.
The net amount of sales tax recoverable from, or payable to, the taxation authority is included as part of receivables or payables in the balance sheet.
2.2 Summary of measurement principles
The Group’s measurement principles can be summarized and simplified as follows – providing there is no impairment:
Balance sheet item
Cash and cash equivalents
Trade accounts receivable
with limited useful lives
with indefinite useful lives
Property, plant and equipment
Share in associated companies
Other financial assets
Financial assets measured at fair value through other comprehensive income without reclassification of cumulative gains and losses on derecognition
Fair value through profit or loss
Lower of cost and net realizable value
Income tax claims
Expected payment from the tax authorities based on tax rates applicable on the reporting date or in the near future
Other non-financial assets
Deferred tax assets
Undiscounted measurement at tax rates valid in the period in which an asset is realized or a liability settled
Liabilities due to banks
Deferred tax liabilities
Undiscounted measurement at tax rates valid in the period in which an asset is realized or a liability settled
Income tax liabilities
Expected payment to the tax authorities based on tax rates applicable on the reporting date or in the near future
Trade accounts payable
Other accrued liabilities
Expected discounted amount that will lead to outflow of resources
Other financial liabilities
Fair value through profit or loss
Other non-financial liabilities
2.3 Effects of new or amended IFRS standards
For the fiscal year starting January 1, 2020, the following standards were applied for the first time:
Mandatory for fiscal years beginning on or after
Endorsed by EU Commission
Revised Definitions of Assets and Liabilities as well as New Guidance on Measurement and Derecognition, Recognition and Disclosures
Jan. 1, 2020
Definition of a Business
Jan. 1, 2020
Amendments to IFRS 9, IAS 39 and IFRS 7
Interest Rate Benchmark Reform (Phase 1)
Jan. 1, 2020
Amendments to IAS 1 and IAS 8
Definition of Material
Jan. 1, 2020
Amendments to IFRS 16
Covid-19-Related Rent Concessions
June 1, 2020
These amendments had no significant impact on the Consolidated Financial Statements and are not expected to have a material impact on the Group in the future.
2.4 Accounting standards already published but not yet mandatory
Apart from the IFRSs mentioned above whose application is mandatory, the IASB has also published further IFRSs and IFRICs which have already partly received EU endorsement but which will not become mandatory until a later date. United Internet AG will probably only implement these standards when their adoption in the Consolidated Financial Statements becomes mandatory.
Mandatory for fiscal years beginning on or after
Endorsed by EU Commission
Amendments to IFRS 9, IAS 39 and IFRS 7, IFRS 4 and IFRS 16
Interest Rate Benchmark Reform (Phase 2)
Jan. 1, 2021
Amendment: Reference to the Conceptual Framework
Jan. 1, 2022
Amendment: Onerous Contracts – Cost of Fulfilling a Contract
Jan. 1, 2022
Amendment: Property, Plant and Equipment – Proceeds before Intended Use
Jan. 1, 2022
Amendment: Classification of Liabilities as Current or Non-current.
Jan. 1, 2022
Amendments: Guidelines on Disclosures of Accounting Policies in the Financial Statements
Jan. 1, 2023
Amendment: Distinction between Amendment of Accounting Policies and Accounting Estimates
Jan. 1, 2023
IFRS 1, IFRS 9, IFRS 16 and IAS 41
Annual Improvements 2018-2020
Jan. 1, 2023
No significant impact for the Group is expected from IFRS amendments already published but not yet mandatory.
3. Significant accounting judgments, estimates, and assumptions
The application of accounting and measurement methods in preparing the Consolidated Financial Statements requires management to make certain accounting judgments, estimates, and assumptions. These have an effect on the disclosed amounts of earnings, expenditure, assets and liabilities, as well as contingent liabilities, as of the reporting date. Actual amounts may differ from these estimates and assumptions, which may lead in future to significant adjustments to the carrying amounts of the assets and liabilities concerned.
Judgments, estimates, and assumptions
In the application of accounting and measurement methods, management made the following accounting judgments which significantly affect amounts in the Annual Financial Statements.
The most important forward-looking assumptions and other major sources of uncertainty as of the reporting date, which involve the risk of significant adjustments to the carrying amounts of assets and liabilities in the coming fiscal year, are explained below.
Impact of the coronavirus pandemic
Due to its long-term subscription business, the Company is well positioned and has only been affected by the coronavirus pandemic to a manageable extent, depending on the business segment.
The impact on sales and EBITDA is explained in the corresponding sections of the Management Report.
Trade accounts receivableThe recoverability of receivables as a result of the coronavirus pandemic has remained essentially unchanged compared to December 31, 2019.
Intangible assets and property, plant and equipmentAt present, the coronavirus pandemic has not had any significant impact on the recoverability of intangible assets and property, plant and equipment. An impairment test is performed in order to check recoverability (Note 29).
The effects and consequences of the coronavirus pandemic are still subject to uncertainties, as it is currently not possible to precisely estimate the duration and further effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
The standalone selling prices for hardware are determined on the basis of the adjusted market assessment approach, which requires an estimate of the relevant market prices for the respective hardware. Changes in these estimates may affect the allocation of the transaction price to the individual performance obligations and thus also affect the amount and timing of revenue recognition.
In addition, various other assumptions and estimates are made during application of the portfolio approach, which are based on past experience and available knowledge at the end of the reporting period. Changes in these assumptions and estimates in their entirety can also have a material effect on the amount and timing of revenue recognition.
Costs of contract fulfillment and contract initiation
The calculation of the estimated amortization periods for contract costs is based on past experience and subject to significant uncertainties, in particular with regard to unforeseen customer or technology developments. A change in the estimated amortization period affects the timing of the recognition. The carrying amount of capitalized contract initiation and contract fulfillment costs as of December 31, 2020 amounted to € 275,177k (prior year: € 283,162k).
Measurement of non-listed equity instruments
Measuring the fair value of a non-listed equity instrument not only takes into account past experience of the company in question but also expectations of its probable future development. These expectations are based on numerous assumptions and the measurement of fair value is therefore subject to significant uncertainties. As of the reporting date, there were no non-listed equity instruments (prior year: € 44,622k).
Impairment of non-financial assets
Goodwill and other intangible assets with indefinite useful lives, as well as not yet usable assets with finite useful lives, are assessed at least once a year or on indication of impairment. Other non-financial assets are tested for impairment if there is any indication that the carrying value exceeds the recoverable amount. The recoverable value of the respective cash-generating unit to which the goodwill or intangible assets have been allocated is calculated either as “value-in-use” or fair value less cost of sell. As of December 31, 2020, the carrying amount of goodwill was € 3,609,437k (prior year: € 3,616,515k).
In order to estimate value-in-use or fair value less cost of sell, management must estimate expected future cash flows of the asset or cash-generating unit and select a suitable discount rate to assess the present value of these cash flows.
Further details, including a sensitivity analysis of significant assumptions, are presented in the Note “Impairment of goodwill and intangible assets with indefinite useful lives as well as of intangible assets not yet usable (spectrum licenses)”.
The most important management assumptions for the measurement of the recoverable value of cash-generating units include assumptions regarding the development of sales, margins, and the discount rate.
Carrying amounts and impairment test for investments in associated companies
As of the reporting date, the United Internet Group holds investments in various associated companies. If the consideration for the acquisition of the shares is made by contributing a subsidiary or other investment, the acquisition costs of the associated company are to be determined by means of a company valuation. This valuation is closely related to the assumptions and estimates made by management with respect to the future development of the respective company and the applicable discount rate.
In accordance with IAS 28.40, the Group examines on the reporting date whether the net investment of the United Internet Group in the respective associated company requires an additional impairment charge.
The carrying amount for shares in associated companies is measured on the basis of their prorated annual results. If the annual results for the fiscal year are not known, an estimate is made on the basis of the latest publicly available financial information of the respective associated company.
The recoverable amounts of listed associated companies is based on the respective share price. The recoverable amounts of non-listed companies consider both the available past experience for the respective company and expectations of its future development. As these expectations are based on numerous assumptions, the calculation of recoverable amounts depends on discretionary factors. As of December 31, 2020, the carrying value of investments in listed associated companies amounted to € 0k (prior year: € 106,639k). The carrying value of investments in non-listed associated companies as of December 31, 2020 amounted to € 89,567k (prior year: € 89,397k).
The Group measures the cost of granting equity instruments to employees by using the fair value of these equity instruments at the moment they were granted. A suitable measurement model must be used to estimate fair value when granting equity instruments; this depends on the contractual terms. Suitable data must also be chosen for the valuation process, including the expected option term, volatility, exercise behavior, and dividend yield, as well as the corresponding assumptions.
In the reporting period, expenses for share-based remuneration amounted to € 14,547k (prior year: € 8,510k).
Uncertainties exist with respect to the interpretation of complex tax regulations and the amount and timing of future taxable income. Given the complexity of existing contractual agreements, differences arising between the actual results and the assumptions made, or future changes to such assumptions, could necessitate future adjustments to tax income and expense already recorded. The Group establishes provisions, based on reasonable estimates, for possible consequences of audits by the tax authorities of the respective counties in which it operates.
The amount of such provisions is based on various factors, such as experience of previous tax audits and differing interpretations of tax regulations by the taxable entity and the responsible tax authority. Such differences of interpretation may arise on a wide variety of issues depending on the conditions prevailing in the respective Group company's domicile. The carrying value of income tax liabilities as of December 31, 2020 amounted to € 114,621k (prior year: € 91,680k) and, as in the previous year, mainly related to current taxes of the fiscal year, as well as tax liabilities from the completed tax audit 2012-2015.
Deferred tax assets are recognized for unused tax losses to the extent that it is probable that taxable profit will be available against which the losses can be utilized. Significant management judgement is required to determine the amount of deferred tax assets that can be recognized, based upon the likely timing and the level of future taxable profits, together with future tax planning strategies.
Trade accounts receivable and contract assets
Trade accounts receivable and contract assets are carried in the balance sheet less impairment charges made. Allowances for doubtful claims are made on the basis of expected credit losses by means of regular reviews as well as valuations conducted as part of credit monitoring. Assumptions concerning the payment behavior and creditworthiness of customers are subject to significant uncertainties. The carrying value of trade accounts receivable as of December 31, 2020 amounted to € 398,796k (prior year: € 403,701k). The carrying value of contract assets as of December 31, 2020 amounted to € 774,109k (prior year: € 682,079k).
Inventories are valued at the lower of cost and net realizable value. Net realizable value comprises the estimated sales proceeds less the necessary expected costs up to the time of sale. Measurement is also based in part on writedowns for inventories. The size of such writedowns represents a best-possible estimation of net realizable value and is thus subject to uncertainties. The carrying amounts of inventories as of the reporting date amounted to €85,390k (prior year: €79,268k). Please refer to Note21.
Property, plant and equipment, and intangible assets
Property, plant and equipment, and intangible assets are valued at cost on initial recognition. After initial recognition, property, plant and equipment, and intangible assets with limited useful lives are depreciated over their expected economic useful lives using the straight-line method. Expected useful lives are based on historical experience and thus subject to significant uncertainties, especially with regard to unforeseen technological developments. The carrying value of tangible and intangible assets amounted to € 3,186,327k as of December 31, 2020 (prior year: € 2,936,069k). This amount includes spectrum licenses of € 1,070,187k (prior year: € 1,070,187k).
Right-of-use assets and lease liabilities
For the duration of the lease, a right-of-use asset in the amount of the present value of the future lease payments plus initial direct costs, advance payments, and restoration costs, and less incentive payments received is capitalized and amortized over the term of the lease. At the same time, a lease liability is recognized in the amount of the future lease payments less the interest portion. In order to determine the term of leases, estimates regarding future utilization are required, particularly in the case of agreements with extension and termination options. The incremental borrowing rate is used to measure right-of-use assets and lease liabilities. The incremental borrowing rate is determined on the basis of reference interest rates for a period of up to 17 years from risk-free interest rates with appropriate maturities, plus credit risk premiums.
Accounting for business combinations
Business combinations are accounted for using the purchase method. Goodwill arising from a business combination is initially measured at cost, being the excess of the acquisition cost of the operation over the fair value of the identifiable assets, liabilities, and contingent liabilities acquired. Costs accrued in the course of the business combination are recognized under other operating expense.
However, assumptions made to determine the respective fair value of the acquired assets and liabilities as of the date of acquisition are subject to significant uncertainties. For the identification of intangible assets, depending on the type of intangible asset and complexity of determining its fair value, the Company either uses independent appraisals of external assessors or fair value is determined internally using a suitable assessment technique for the respective intangible asset, generally based on a forecast of total expected future cash flow generation. These valuations are closely related to assumptions and estimates which management has made about the future development of the respective assets and the applicable discounted interest rate.
Provisions are formed if the Group has a legal or actual obligation resulting from a past event which will probably give rise to the outflow of resources with an economic benefit to fulfill the obligation, provided that the level of the obligation can be reliably estimated. Such estimates are subject to significant uncertainties. The carrying value of provisions as of December 31, 2020 amounted to € 78,631k (prior year: € 86,022k).
4. Business combinations and investments
4.1 Business combinations in the fiscal year
The Group acquired the business operations of ASCI Consulting GmbH, Berlin, for a purchase price of € 400k during the reporting period. The acquisition was made via the subsidiary Cronon GmbH. The acquisition of control was on February 1, 2020. ASCI Consulting has extensive expertise in business intelligence (BI) and performance management. The purchase price was mainly allocated to goodwill.
4.2 Investments in companies
The Group made no significant investments in companies in the reporting period.