Note 16: Other provisions and contingent liabilities

Movements in other provisions

in € millions

Restructuring of activities

Environmental costs



Balance at January 1, 2016





Additions made during the year










Amounts reversed during the year





Unwind of discount









Changes in exchange rates





Balance at December 31, 2016










Non-current portion of provisions





Current portion of provisions





Balance at December 31, 2016





Provisions for restructuring of activities

Provisions for restructuring of activities comprise of accruals for certain employee benefits and for costs which are directly associated with plans to exit or cease specific activities and closing down of facilities. For all restructuring provisions a detailed formal plan exists and the implementation of the plan has started or the plan has been announced before the balance sheet date. Most restructuring plans are expected to be completed within one year from the balance sheet date.

Environmental liabilities

We are confronted with substantial costs arising out of environmental laws and regulations, which include obligations to eliminate or limit the effects on the environment of the disposal or release of certain wastes or substances at various sites. Proceedings involving environmental matters, such as the alleged discharge of chemicals or waste materials into the air, water, or soil, are pending against us in various countries. In some cases, this concerns sites divested in prior years or derelict sites belonging to companies acquired in the past.

Environmental liabilities can change substantially due to the emergence of additional information on the nature or extent of the contamination, the geological circumstances, the necessity of employing particular methods of remediation, actions by governmental agencies or private parties, or other factors.

The provisions for environmental costs amounted to €252 million at year-end 2016 (2015: €305 million). The provision has been discounted using an average pre-tax discount rate of 2.0 percent (2015: 3.3 percent). While it is not feasible to predict the outcome of all pending environmental exposures, it is reasonably possible that there will be a need for future provisions for environmental costs which, in management’s opinion, based on information currently available, would not have a material effect on the company’s financial position but could be material to the company’s results of operations in any one accounting period.

Sundry provisions and other contingent liabilities

Sundry provisions relate to a variety of risks and commitments, including provisions for claims, antitrust cases and other long-term employee benefits, such as long-service leave and jubilee payments.

The majority of the cash outflows related to sundry provisions are expected to be within one to five years. In calculating the sundry provisions, a pre-tax discount rate of on average 2.1 percent (2015: 2.8 percent) has been used.

AkzoNobel is – together with others – involved in civil proceedings initiated by Cartel Damages Claims HP SA/NV before the Dortmund Court in Germany in relation to the Hydrogen Peroxide infringement in the 1990s. This claim is disputed.

An appeal by the company is pending with the European Court of Justice against the ruling of the General Court on the decision by the European Commission to impose fines on certain subsidiaries of the company for violations of EU competition laws regarding Heat Stabilizers in the 1980s and 1990s.

AkzoNobel has provided various indemnities and guarantees in respect of past divestments to the relevant purchasers and their permitted assigns (if applicable), which in general are capped in time and/or amount (in proportion to the value received). The provided guarantees and indemnities have varying maturity periods. Akzo Nobel has received various claims under such indemnities and guarantees. In some instances, AkzoNobel has been named as a direct defendant despite the divestments.

A number of other claims are pending, all of which are contested. We are also involved in disputes with tax authorities in several jurisdictions.

Provisions are recognized when an outflow of economic benefits for settlement is probable and the amount can be reliably estimated. It should be understood that, in light of possible future developments, such as: (a) potential additional lawsuits; (b) possible future settlements; and (c) rulings or judgments in pending lawsuits, certain cases may result in additional liabilities and related costs. At this point in time, we cannot estimate any additional amount of loss or range of loss in excess of the recorded amounts with sufficient certainty to allow such amount or range of amounts to be meaningful. While the outcome of said cases, claims and disputes cannot be predicted with certainty, we believe, based upon legal advice and information received, that the final outcome will not materially affect our consolidated financial position but could be material to our results of operations or cash flows in any one accounting period.

Current portion of provisions

Current portion of post-retirement benefit provisions (€108 million) and other provisions (€314 million) adds up to €422 million (2015: €451 million), as reflected in the balance sheet.

Discount rates

The discount rates used in calculating the provisions recognized at December 31, 2016 are mentioned in the paragraphs on environmental and sundry provisions. Changes in the discount rate will affect our consolidated financial position. A sensitivity test showed that a one percentage point increase or decrease of discount rates will have an impact of approximately €20 million on the provisions recognized at December 31, 2016.