C2. Key sources of estimation uncertainty

The preparation of financial statements requires management and the Board of Directors to make estimates and judgments that affect reported amounts of assets, liabilities, revenues and expenses, and related disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities. These estimates are based on historical experience and various other assumptions that management and the Board believe are reasonable under the circumstances, the results of which form the basis for making judgments about the carrying values of assets and liabilities that are not readily apparent from other sources. Actual results may differ from these estimates under different assumptions or conditions, significantly impacting Telia Company’s earnings and financial position.

Management believes that the following areas comprise the most difficult, subjective or complex judgments it has to make in the preparation of the financial statements. For information on accounting policies applied, see the respective sections of Note C3 “Significant accounting policies.”

Revenue recognition

For a telecom operator, if and when revenue should be recognized requires management judgment in a number of cases.

Principal or agent – gross versus net presentation

When the group acts as a principal, income and payments to suppliers are reported on a gross basis in revenue and operating costs. If the group sells goods or services as an agent (mainly content services) revenue and payments to suppliers are recorded in revenue on a net basis, representing the margin/commission earned. Whether the group is considered to be principal or agent in a transaction depends on analysis by management of both the legal form and substance of the agreement between the group and its business partners; such judgments impact the amount of reported revenue and operating expenses but do not impact net income or cash flows. Features indicating that the group is acting as a principal include: responsibility for providing the goods or services and the group has latitude in establishing prices or provides additional goods and services. Features indicating that the group is acting as an agent include: the group does not have exposure to significant risks and rewards associated with the sale of goods or services or the amount the group earns is predetermined, being either a fixed fee per transaction or a stated percentage of the amount billed to the customer.

Bundling of products and services

In bundling of products and services, determining fair values and if or when revenue should be recognized requires management judgment. Revenue is allocated between the goods and services using relative fair values. The fair values determined for goods or services may impact the timing of the recognition of revenue. Determining the fair value of each element can require complex estimates but is mainly based on expected cost plus a margin.

Income taxes

Significant management judgment is required in determining current tax liabilities and assets as well as provisions for deferred tax liabilities and assets, in particular as regards valuation of deferred tax assets. As part of this process, income taxes have to be estimated in each of the jurisdictions in which Telia Company operates. The process involves estimating the actual current tax exposure together with assessing temporary differences resulting from the different valuation of certain assets and liabilities in the financial statements and in the tax returns. Management must also assess the probability that the deferred tax assets will be recovered from future taxable income.

Actual results may differ from these estimates due to, among other factors, future changes in business environment, currently unknown changes in income tax legislation, or results from the final review of tax returns by tax authorities or by courts of law. For additional information on deferred tax assets and liabilities and their carrying values as of the end of the reporting period, see Note C10 “Income taxes.”

Valuation of intangible and other non-current assets

Intangible assets, and property, plant and equipment represent a significant part of Telia Company’s total assets.

Useful lives

Determination of the useful lives of asset classes involves taking into account historical trends and making assumptions related to future socio-economic and technological development and expected changes in market behavior.

In 2016 and 2015, amortization, depreciation and impairment losses totaled SEK 11,533 million and SEK 12,780 million, respectively. For additional information on intangible and tangible assets subject to amortization and depreciation and their carrying values as of the end of the reporting period, see Note C12 “Goodwill and other intangible assets” and Note C13 “Property, plant and equipment.”

Impairment testing

A number of significant assumptions and estimates are involved when measuring value in use and fair value less costs of disposal based on the expected future discounted cash flows attributable to an asset, for example with respect to factors such as market growth rates, revenue volumes, market prices for telecommunications services, costs to maintain and develop communications networks and working capital requirements. Forecasts of future cash flows are based on the best estimates of future revenues and operating expenses using historical trends, general market conditions, industry trends and forecasts and other available information. These assumptions are prepared by management and subject to review by the Audit Committee of the Board of Directors. The cash flow forecasts are discounted at the weighted average cost of capital for the relevant cash-generating unit. For Denmark the key assumptions on sales growth and EBITDA margin development in the forecasts are deviating from historical trends. For the forecast period Telia Company has clear and committed plans for sales initiatives, cost reductions and working capital improvements. Despite firm business plans,  there is a risk that forecasted performance for Denmark could be impacted by operational factors as well as external factors like WACC increase or unexpected market development affecting forecasted revenue which could result in an impair­ment loss. For additional information on goodwill and its carrying value as of the end of the reporting period, see Note C12 “Goodwill and other intangible assets.”

Currently, the following amortization and depreciation rates are applied.

Trade names

Individual evaluation, minimum 10 percent

Telecom and frequency licenses, numbering rights

Remaining license period, minimum 5 percent

Interconnect and roaming agreements

Agreement term, based on the remaining useful life of the related license

Customer relationships

Individual evaluation, based on historic and projected churn

Capitalized development expenses

20 percent or individual evaluation

Other intangible assets

20–33 percent or individual evaluation

Buildings

2–10 percent

Land improvements

2 percent

Capitalized improvements on leased premises

Remaining term of corresponding lease

Mobile networks (base stations and other installations)

14.5–20 percent

Fixed networks

 

– Switching systems and transmission systems

10–20 percent

– Transmission media (cable)

5–10 percent

– Equipment for special networks

10 percent

– Usufruct agreements of limited duration

Agreement term or time corresponding to the underlying asset

– Other installations

2–33 percent

Equipment, tools and installations

10–33 percent

Customer premises equipment under service arrangements

33 percent, or agreement term if longer

 

Collectability of trade receivables

Telia Company’s allowance for doubtful receivables reflects estimated losses that result from the inability of customers to make required payments. Management determines the size of the allowance based on the likelihood of recoverability of accounts receivable taking into account actual losses in prior years and current collection trends. Should economic or specific industry trends worsen compared to management estimates, the allowance may have to be increased, negatively impacting earnings. See section “Credit risk management” in Note C26 “Financial risk management” for a description of how risks related to trade receivables are mitigated. For additional information on the allowance for doubtful receivables and its carrying value as of the end of the reporting period, see Note C17 “Trade and other receivables.”

Provisions for pensions and employment contracts

The most significant assumptions that management has to make in connection with the actuarial calculation of pension obligations and pension expenses affects the discount rate, the expected annual adjustments to pensions, and the longevity. Changes in any of these key assumptions may have a significant impact on the projected benefit obligations, funding requirements and periodic pension cost.

For additional information on assumptions made, sensitivity analysis related to change in assumptions and pension obligations and their present values as of the end of the reporting period, see Note C21 “Provisions for pensions and employment contracts.”

Provisions for restructuring activities, contingent liabilities and litigation

Telia Company has engaged, and may in the future need to engage, in restructuring activities, which require management to make significant estimates related to expenses for severance and other employee termination costs, lease cancellation, site dismantling and other exit costs and to realizable values of assets made redundant or obsolete (see section “Valuation of intangible and other non-current assets” above). Should the actual amounts differ from these estimates, future results could be materially impacted.

Determination of the treatment of contingent assets and liabilities in the financial statements is based on management’s view of the expected outcome of the applicable contingency. Management consults with legal counsel on matters related to litigation and other experts both within and outside the company with respect to matters in the ordinary course of business. There are ongoing investigations in Sweden, the Netherlands and the US regarding Telia Company’s operations in Uzbekistan and suspected irregularities related to those and to the market entry into Uzbekistan. As announced on September 15, 2016, Telia Company received a proposal from the authorities for resolution of the pending investigations. The authorities have proposed a global resolution that includes a total financial sanction of USD 1.45 billion. Without certainty as to the timing and amount that may be paid at the time of a final resolution, Telia Company has recorded a USD 1.45 billion (SEK 13.2 billion) provision at the balance sheet date. For more information on these investigations, see Note C34 “Discontinued operations and assets classified as held for sale” and “Risks and uncertainties” section “Review of Eurasian transactions.”

For additional information on restructuring provisions, including their carrying values as of the end of the reporting period, and on contingencies and litigation, see Notes C22 “Other provisions” and C29 “Contingencies, other contractual obligations and litigation,” respectively.

Classification as held for sale and discontinued operations

Non-current assets and disposal groups are classified as held-for-sale if their carrying value will be recovered principally through a sale transaction rather than through continuing use. The determination if and when non-currents assets and disposal groups should be classified as held-for-sale requires management judgment considering all facts and circumstances relating to the transaction, the parties and the market and entities can come to different conclusions under IFRS.

One of the conditions that must be satisfied for classi­fication as held for sale is that the sale is highly probable within one year. One criteria for the sale to qualify as highly probable is that the appropriate level of management must be committed to a plan to sell the assets or disposal group in its present condition. In the telecom industry acquisitions often require regulatory approval. If the buyer is a telecom operator in the same market entities often have to agree to a number of remedies to get the approval. If the buyer is expected to be a telecom operator in the same market and significant remedies are expected, a sale is usually not regarded as highly probable and consequently the assets are not classified as held for sale by Telia Company, until the remedies are agreed upon and accepted by management.

Former segment region Eurasia is classified as held for sale and discontinued operations since December 31, 2015. Telia Company is still committed to the plan to divest the remaining parts of Eurasia and the delay during 2016 in the sales process was caused by events and circumstances beyond Telia Company’s control. The remaining Eurasian parts are available for immediate sale and divestment of these units are deemed highly probable within one year. Due to the specific circumstances in each market and the complex owner structures there is some uncertainty relating to the timing of the divestment of Eurasia. See Note C34 “Discontinued operations and assets classified as held for sale” and “Risks and uncertainties” for more information on discontinued operations and risks that may affect the timing of divestment.

Fair value estimates – discontinued operations

In accordance with IFRS 5, the discontinued operations are measured at the lower of carrying value and estimated fair value less costs to sell. The valuation is based on an overall assessment of the input from the sales process and the risks in the different countries. Fair value is the price that would be received to sell the discontinued operations in an orderly transaction between market participants at the measurement date under current market conditions. There are no directly observable prices for Telia Company’s discontinued operations and fair values have therefore been estimated using other valuation techniques which require the use of judgement. For the Eurasian operations the estimated fair values are based on agreed sales prices, indicative bids received, valuation discussions with potential buyers and for Uzbekistan the combined results of different valuation models. Apart from the normal business risks, there are a number of specific risks related to the valuation of the different Eurasian operations such as cash repatriation issues, foreign exchange risks, unstable regulatory environment, owner structure and finding the right buyer from a sustainability point of view. Given the lack of precedents and factual evidence, it is difficult to quantify the valuation impact of all such risks. Any potential discount, moreover, will be highly subject to the specific views of an interested buyer. The specific risks of each country have also been factored in to the fair value estimates. See Note C34 “Discontinued operations and assets classified as held for sale” and “Risks and uncertainties” for more information on discontinued operations and risks that may affect the estimated fair values.

Unquoted equity instruments

Unquoted equity instruments are measured at fair value with fair value changes recognized in other comprehensive income. Telia Company’s primary valuation technique for unquoted equity instruments is based on the most recent transaction for the specific company if such transaction has been recently done. Adjustments to the carrying value is made to reflect significant changes in circumstances since the transaction date if Telia Company assess that the change will have a material impact on the fair value. The estimated fair value for material unquoted equity instruments is verified by applying other valuation models in the form of valuation multiples from peers on relevant financial and operational metrics. Although Telia Company uses its best judgement, and cross references results of the primary valuation model against other models in estimating the fair value of unlisted equity instruments, there are inherent limitations in any estimation techniques. The fair value estimates presented herein are not necessarily indicative of an amount that Telia Company could realize in a current transaction. Future confirming events will also affect the estimates of fair value. The effect of such events on the estimates of fair value could be material. Unlisted equity instruments for which the fair value cannot be reliably measured are measured at cost less any impairment. For information on unquoted equity instruments, see section “Fair value measurement of Level 3 financial instruments” in C25 “Financial assets and liabilities by category and level.”