Question

Sandolin Incorporated (SI) is a global, diversified firm whose shares trade on the major Canadian and U.S. stock markets. It owns numerous toll highways, several companies in the energy business, and an engineering consulting firm. Currently, its shares are trading at a 52-week high and its credit rating on all debt issues is AA. This is partly due to its revenues, which have doubled, and is also due to a recent restructuring. The restructuring is in the energy business and allows the company to position itself as a low-cost competitor in the industry. The restructuring involved laying off 5,000 employees and mothballing several oil and gas wells. The cost to extract oil and gas from the wells is currently too high. The company plans to retain the wells and work on new technology to reduce the extraction costs. SI is in the process of putting together its annual financial statements and the VP Finance, Santos Suarez, is planning to meet with the company’s auditors next week for a preliminary audit planning meeting. Santos is concerned about a phone call that he recently received from the government, as it was threatening legal action relating to the transportation part of the business. Among other things, SI owns a toll highway that stretches approximately 100 kilometres across a major urban centre. The road is very profitable since non-toll roads in the area are very congested and people use the toll road to commute. SI recently raised toll rates on the road and the government is claiming it is prohibited from doing this without government consent, which the government does not plan to give. Santos is concerned that if this news gets out, the credit rating and share price will suffer. SI believes that its contract allows it to change toll rates whenever it wants. SI’s lawyers have reviewed the contracts and feel that SI’s position is justifiable. The value of the toll road as a business is substantially less if the company loses the right to change the tolls. While reviewing the company’s dramatic increase in revenues, Santos became aware of a new type of transaction that the company has been entering into with increasing frequency in the past two months. As part of the energy business, SI employs a group of traders who make deals that reduce the company’s exposure to fluctuating commodity prices. According to several e-mails between the traders, the deals are known as “round trip” trades. Several large trades involved purchases and sales with the same party for the same volume at substantially the same price. They have been treated as sales and account for 40% of the increase in revenues. The trader’s position is that the company does make a commission on these deals, which adds up depending on the volume. The company never takes possession of the commodity that is being bought and sold. Just before year end, the company acquired a mid-sized engineering firm. As part of the deal, the company issued shares to the vendor. The value of the issued shares was higher than the fair value of the engineering firm and the vendor gave SI a one-year note receivable for the difference. If profits from the engineering firm exceed a certain threshold—i.e., if the firm outperforms expectations—the note will not be paid. Currently, SI has recorded the note receivable as an asset.
Instructions
Adopt the role of Santos and analyze the financial reporting issues.


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  • CreatedAugust 23, 2015
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