7. Significant Assumptions and Estimates

Preparing the Consolidated Financial Statements in accordance with IFRS requires management to make estimates and assess individual facts and circumstances. The estimates made are based on past experience and other relevant factors and on a going concern basis.

The amounts which actually arise may differ from those resulting from estimates and assumptions.

The accounting and valuation principles applied are explained in Note 6. Material assumptions and estimates affect the following issues:

Business Combinations

The fair value of the assets acquired and liabilities and contingent liabilities assumed as a result of business combinations must be estimated. For this purpose HHLA either makes use of opinions from independent external experts or calculates the fair value internally using suitable calculation models. These are normally based on discounted cash flows. Depending on the nature of the assets or the availability of information, market price, capital value and cost-oriented valuation methods are applied.

Goodwill

The Group tests goodwill for impairment at least once a year. This requires an estimate of the fair value generally used at HHLA less selling costs of the cash-generating units to which the goodwill has been allocated. To estimate the fair value, the Group must forecast the likely future cash flows from the cash-generating unit and also choose an appropriate discount rate with which to calculate the present value of these cash flows. Unforeseeable changes may mean that the assumptions used during planning are no longer appropriate, making it necessary to adjust plans. An impairment loss could be incurred as a result. For more information, please refer to Note 22.

Investment Property

The fair value of investment property must be disclosed in the Notes. HHLA carries out its own calculations to determine the fair value of this property. Industry-standard discounted cash flow methods are applied. The calculations are based on assumptions about applicable interest rates and the amount and time frame of expected future cash flows which these assets can generate. Detailed information is available in Note 24.

Pension Provisions

Actuarial opinions are commissioned annually to determine the expenses for pensions and similar obligations. These calculations include assumptions about demographic changes, salary and pension increases, and interest, inflation and fluctuation rates. Because these assumptions are long-term in nature, the observations are assumed to be characterised by material uncertainties. More detailed information is available in Note 36.

Demolition Obligations

Provisions for demolition obligations result from obligations to be met at the end of the lease term under long-term lease agreements with the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg. All HHLA Group companies in the Port of Hamburg are obliged to return leased land free of all buildings owned by them at the end of the lease term. To calculate the amount of the provision, it was assumed that the obligation would be carried out in full for all leased property, with the exception of buildings designated as historical landmarks in the Speicherstadt historical warehouse district. The calculations are based on assumptions concerning the amount of demolition work necessary, interest rates and inflation. For more information, please refer to Note 37.

Provisions for Phased Early Retirement

All employees who have signed, or are expected to sign, an agreement are taken into consideration when recognising and measuring provisions for phased early retirement. The number of employees expected to sign is an estimate. The appraisal reports are also based on actuarial assumptions. For more information, please refer to Note 37.

Non-Current and Current Financial Liabilities

This item includes, amongst other things, financial settlement obligations to shareholders with non-controlling interests in consolidated subsidiaries. These liabilities exist because HHLA has concluded a profit and loss transfer agreement with a subsidiary which entitles non-controlling interests to receive financial settlements, see Note 6. The parameters used to calculate this amount are subject to significant uncertainties which can cause figures to fluctuate accordingly. For more detailed explanations, please refer to Note 38.

Calculating Fair Value

The fair value measured for financial and non-financial assets and liabilities is regularly reviewed by the Group.

The Group also regularly reviews key unobservable input factors and valuation adjustments. When the fair value of an asset or liability is calculated, the Group uses observable market data whenever possible. Based on the input factors used during valuation, the fair values calculated are classified as belonging to different levels of the fair value hierarchy:

  • Level 1: Listed prices (non-adjusted) on active markets for identical assets or liabilities
  • Level 2: Valuation parameters which do not involve the listed prices included in level 1 but which are observable for the asset or liability either directly (i.e. as a price) or indirectly (i.e. as determined through prices)
  • Level 3: Valuation parameters for assets or liabilities which are not based on observable market data

The Group records any transfers between the various levels of the fair value hierarchy at the end of the reporting period in which the amendment was made.

For details of the valuation methods and input parameters used to measure the fair value of the various assets and liabilities, please see Note 24 and Note 47.