Intellectual capital is recognised as the most important asset of many of the world’s largest and most powerful companies; it is the foundation for the market dominance and continuing profitability of leading corporations. It is often the key objective in mergers and acquisitions and knowledgeable companies are increasingly using licensing routes to transfer these assets to low tax jurisdictions.

Nevertheless, the role of intellectual property rights (IPRs) and intangible assets in business is insufficiently understood.  Accounting standards are generally not helpful in representing the worth of IPRs in company accounts and IPRs are often under-valued, under-managed or under-exploited.  Despite the importance and complexity of IPRs, there is generally little coordination between the different professionals dealing with an organisation’s IPR.  For a better understanding of the IPRs of a company, some of the questions to be answered should often be:

  • What are the IPRs used in the business?
  • What is their value (and hence level of risk)?
  • Who owns it (could I sue, or could someone sue me)?
  • How may it be better exploited (e.g. licensing in or out of technology)?
  • At what level do I need to insure the IPR risk?

Valuation is, essentially, a bringing together of the economic concept of the value and the legal concept of property. The presence of an asset is a function of its ability to generate a return and the discount rate applied to that return.

The cardinal rule of commercial valuation is: the value of something cannot be stated in the abstract; all that can be stated is the value of a thing in a particular place, at a particular time, in particular circumstances.

For the value of intangible assets, calculating the value of intangible assets is not usually a major problem when they have been formally protected through trademarks, patents or copyright. This is not the case with intangibles such as know-how, (which can include the talents, skill, and knowledge of the workforce), training systems and methods, technical processes, customer lists, distribution networks, etc. These assets may be equally valuable but more difficult to identify in terms of the earnings and profits they generate. With many intangibles, a very careful initial due diligence analysis needs to be undertaken together with IP lawyers and in-house accountants.

There are four main value concepts, namely, owner value, market value, fair value, and tax value. Owner value often determines the price in negotiated deals and is often led by a proprietor’s view of value if he were deprived of the property. The basis of market value is the assumption that if the comparable property has fetched a certain price, then the subject property will realise a price something near to it. The fair value concept, in its essence, is the desire to be equitable to both parties. It recognises that the transaction is not in the open market and that vendor and purchaser have been brought together in a legally binding manner. Tax value has been the subject of case law worldwide since the turn of the century and is an esoteric practice. There are quasi-concepts of value which impinge upon each of these main areas, namely, investment value, liquidation value, and going concern value.

Contact Quinn Mergers & Acquisitions on 1300 784 667 or submit an online enquiry to discuss your business valuation queries and requirements.

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