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An investor should consider interest costs related to equity method investments. ASC 835-20 requires an investor to capitalize interest costs while the investee has activities in progress to begin planned principal operations and the investee is using funds to acquire assets for its operations. Interest cannot be capitalized after the planned principal operations have commenced, for example, when an investee has several factories under construction but one begins operations.

Excerpt from ASC 835-20-15-5

Interest shall be capitalized for the following types of assets (qualifying assets)…
c. Investments (equity, loans, and advances) accounted for by the equity method while the investee has activities in progress necessary to commence its planned principal operations provided that the investee’s activities include the use of funds to acquire qualifying assets for its operations. The investor’s investment in the investee, not the individual assets or projects of the investee, is the qualifying asset for purposes of interest capitalization.

Excerpt from ASC 835-20-15-6

Interest shall not be capitalized for the following types of assets…
d. Investments accounted for by the equity method after the planned principal operations of the investee begin (see paragraph 835-20-55-2 for clarification of the phrase after planned principal operations begin)

Separately, an investee may qualify to capitalize interest on allowable projects in its own financial statements, even if the investor is not permitted to capitalize the interest it incurs. The investor would recognize interest capitalized by the investee through its equity method earnings (i.e., its proportionate share of the depreciation expense related to the investee’s capitalized interest). However, if the investee’s capitalized interest is related to a loan from the investor, the investor should adjust equity method earnings for its proportionate share of capitalized interest from its equity method investment with a related deduction from its equity method investment. Example EM 4-10 illustrates this concept.
EXAMPLE EM 4-10
Investee capitalizes interest costs for loan from investor
Investor has a 25% investment in Investee common stock that is accounted for under the equity method of accounting. On 1/1/20X1, Investor loans $1 million with a 6% annual interest rate to Investee to build a factory. Investee does not have any other loans outstanding. Investee’s planned principal operations have not yet commenced, and so the related interest qualifies for capitalization per ASC 835-20. Investee has net income for the year ending 12/31/20X1 of $300,000.
How should Investor record its share of Investee’s earnings?
Analysis
Investor would record its 25% share of Investee’s earnings for the year ending 12/31/20X1 as follows.
Dr. Equity method investment
$75,000
Cr. Equity method earnings
$75,000
Investor would also record $60,000 of interest income for the year ending 12/31/20X1 ($1,000,000 loan balance multiplied by 6% annual interest rate).
Dr. Cash
$60,000
Cr. Interest income
$60,000
Investee has capitalized the interest associated with the loan provided by Investor. Therefore, Investor needs to adjust equity method earnings to deduct Investor’s proportionate share of the interest capitalized by Investee (25% of $60,000 total Investee interest).
Dr. Equity method earnings
$15,000
Cr. Equity method investment
$15,000
This example does not consider the effect of any basis differences on the factory resulting from Investee being able to capitalize interest that is not capitalizable by Investor. The investor should consider the effects of basis differences that arise from capitalized interest on loans from the investor and should adjust equity method earnings over the same period of the associated underlying assets of the investee (e.g., depreciation of the related PP&E).

Investors should evaluate if loans to the investee are considered in-substance capital contributions, such as a scenario when all investors are required to make loans or advances in proportion to their equity interests. If an in-substance capital contribution, interest received by the investor would be accounted for as a distribution from the investee, with a reduction to the investor’s equity method investment instead of interest income.
ASC 835-20-30-6 limits the total interest cost to be capitalized by a consolidated group to the interest incurred by the parent and its consolidated subsidiaries. An equity method investee is not a part of the investor’s (parent’s) consolidated group. Therefore, interest incurred by the investee is not eligible for capitalization by the investor. Similarly, interest incurred by the investor is not capitalizable by the investee.
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