Note 1: Summary of significant accounting policies

General information

Akzo Nobel N.V. is a company headquartered in the Netherlands. The address of our registered office is Christian Neefestraat 2, Amsterdam; the Chamber of Commerce number is 09007809. We have attached a list of subsidiaries, associated companies and joint ventures, drawn up in conformity with Articles 379 and 414 of Book 2 of the Dutch Civil Code, as an Appendix to our annual report.

We have prepared the Consolidated financial statements of Akzo Nobel N.V. in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) as adopted by the European Union. They also comply with the financial reporting requirements included in Title 9 of Book 2 of the Dutch Civil Code. The Consolidated financial statements have been prepared on a going concern basis. The Management report within the meaning of Article 391 of Book 2 of the Dutch Civil Code consists of the following parts of the annual report:

The section How we created value provides information on the developments during 2020 and the results. This section also provides information on cash flow and , , innovation activities and employees.

On February 16, 2021, the Board of Management authorized the financial statements for issue. The financial statements as presented in this report are subject to adoption by the Annual General Meeting of shareholders on April 22, 2021.


The Consolidated financial statements include the accounts of Akzo Nobel N.V. and its subsidiaries. Subsidiaries are companies over which Akzo Nobel N.V. has control, because it is exposed, or has rights, to variable returns from its involvement with the subsidiary and has the ability to affect returns through its power over the subsidiary. Non-controlling interests in equity and in results are presented separately.

Change in accounting policies and first time application

Accounting pronouncements, which became effective for 2020 (amendments to IFRS 3 “Definition of a Business”, amendments to IFRS 9, IAS 39 and IFRS 7 “Interest Rate Benchmark Reform – Phase 1”, amendments to IAS 1 and IAS 8 “Definition of Material”, “Amendments to References to the Conceptual Framework in IFRS Standards” and the amendment to IFRS 16 “COVID-19-Related Rent Concessions”) had no material impact on our Consolidated financial statements.

Discontinued operations (Note 2)

A discontinued operation is a component of our business that represents a separate major line of business or geographical area of operations that has been disposed of or is held for sale, or is a subsidiary acquired exclusively with a view to resale. Assets and liabilities are classified as held for sale if it is highly probable that the carrying value will be recovered through a sale transaction within one year rather than through continuing use. When reclassifying assets and liabilities as held for sale, we recognize the assets and liabilities at the lower of their carrying value or fair value less costs to sell. Assets held for sale are not depreciated and amortized but tested for impairment. In case of discontinued operations, the comparative figures in the Consolidated statement of income and Consolidated statement of cash flows are represented. The balance sheet comparative figures are not represented.

Alternative Performance Measures (Note 4)

Our Alternative Performance Measures (APM) are based on IFRS measures and exclude so-called . Identified items are special charges and benefits, results on acquisitions and divestments, major restructuring and impairment charges, and charges and benefits related to major legal, environmental and tax cases.

Use of estimates

The preparation of the financial statements in compliance with IFRS requires management to make judgments, estimates and assumptions that affect amounts reported in the financial statements. The estimates and assumptions are based on experience and various other factors that are believed to be reasonable under the circumstances and are used to judge the carrying values of assets and liabilities that are not readily apparent from other sources. The estimates and underlying assumptions are reviewed on an ongoing basis. The most critical accounting policies involving a higher degree of judgment and complexity in applying principles of valuation and for which changes in the assumptions and estimates could result in significantly different results than those recorded in the financial statements are the following:

  • Scope of consolidation (Note 2)
  • Discontinued operations and held for sale (Note 2)
  • Income tax and deferred tax assets, including uncertain tax positions (Note 9)
  • Impairment of intangible assets, property, plant and equipment and right-of-use assets (Note 11, 12, 13)
  • Post-retirement benefit provisions (Note 19)
  • Provisions and contingent liabilities (Note 20)

COVID-19 impact on financial statements

The pandemic situation in 2020 has been closely monitored and appropriate measures have been taken to continue serving our customers and save costs, while at the same time keeping the organization intact and able to respond quickly to changes in end market demand. The overall impact on AkzoNobel for the full-year 2020 was limited. An overall positive impact was noted for the Decorative Paints segment, whereas there was an overall adverse impact in the Performance Coatings segment. The pandemic has not impacted our going concern assumption.

AkzoNobel has a strong balance sheet and solid cash position. At December 31, 2020, cash and cash equivalents were €1.6 billion and financial leverage (net debt/) was 0.8. AkzoNobel is committed to retain a strong investment grade credit rating.

In 2020, a detailed assessment was performed of potential valuation adjustments to the overall asset base, either due to the direct impact of COVID-19 or due to its impact on future profitability. Goodwill and intangible asset impairment tests have been performed based on most recently updated forecasts. Recoverability of deferred tax assets has also been reassessed based on these forecasts. Furthermore, an assessment was performed with regard to the allowance for impairment of trade receivables, also taking into account potential additional risk associated with COVID-19.

The impact of the pandemic on the Financial Statements has been considered for each of the relevant notes, and additional disclosures have been provided in case COVID-19 had a material impact on a specific Financial Statements section. The Financial Statements sections for which this is relevant include:

  • Government support received and recorded as credit to employee benefits (Note 7)
  • Income tax and the valuation of deferred tax assets (Note 9)
  • Intangible assets and the annual impairment testing process (Note 11)
  • Valuation of trade receivables (Note 17).

In our 2020 figures, all COVID-19 related impacts have been treated as normal operations; none of these impacts have been included in identified items.

Statement of cash flows

We have used the indirect method to prepare the statement of cash flows. Cash flows in foreign currencies have been translated at transaction rates. Acquisitions or divestments of subsidiaries are presented net of cash and cash equivalents acquired or disposed of, respectively. Cash flows from derivatives are recognized in the statement of cash flows in the same category as those of the hedged items.

Operating segments

We determine and present operating segments based on the information that is provided to the Executive Committee, our chief operating decision-maker during 2020, to make decisions about resources to be allocated to the segments and assess their performance. Segment results reported to the Executive Committee include items directly attributable to a segment as well as those items that can be allocated on a reasonable basis. Unallocated items comprise mainly of corporate assets and corporate costs and are reported in “Corporate and other”.

Foreign currencies

Transactions in foreign currencies are translated into the functional currency using the foreign exchange rate at transaction date. Monetary assets and liabilities denominated in foreign currencies are translated into the functional currency using the exchange rates at the balance sheet date. Resulting foreign currency differences are included in the statement of income in financing income and expenses. Non-monetary assets and liabilities denominated in foreign currencies are translated into the functional currency at the exchange rate at acquisition date.

The assets and liabilities of entities with other functional currencies are translated into euros, the functional currency of the parent entity, using the exchange rates at the balance sheet date. The income and expenses of entities with other functional currencies are translated into the functional currency, using the exchange rates at transaction date.

When a subsidiary is operating in a hyperinflationary country, the financial statements of this entity are restated into the current purchasing power at the end of the reporting period. Hyperinflation accounting is applied for Argentina.

Foreign exchange differences resulting from translation into the functional currency of investments in subsidiaries and of intercompany loans of a permanent nature with other functional currencies are recorded as a separate component (cumulative translation reserve) within other . These cumulative translation adjustments are reclassified (either fully or partly) to the statement of income upon disposal (either fully or partly) or liquidation of the foreign subsidiary to which the investment or the intercompany loan with a permanent nature relates to. Foreign currency differences arising on the translation of a financial liability designated as an effective hedge of a net investment in a foreign operation are recognized in the cumulative translation reserve (in other comprehensive income).

Exchange rates of key currencies

The principal exchange rates against the euro used in preparing the balance sheet and the statement of income are:


Balance sheet

Statement of income








US dollar







Pound sterling







Chinese yuan







Brazilian real







Revenue recognition (Note 5) Sale of goods

Sale of goods

AkzoNobel’s main business consists of straightforward selling of goods (paints and coatings) to customers at contractually determined prices and conditions without any additional services. Although the transfer of risks and rewards is not the only criterion to be considered to determine whether control over the goods has transferred, it is in most situations considered to be the main indicator of the customer’s ability to direct the use of and obtain the benefits from the asset and largely also coincides with the physical transfer of the goods and the obligation of the customer to pay.

Variable considerations, including among others rebates, bonuses, discounts and payments to customers, are accrued for as performance obligations are satisfied and revenue is recognized. Variable considerations are only recognized when it is highly probable that these are not subject to significant reversal. In case of expected returns, no revenue is recognized for such products, but a refund liability and an asset for the right to recover the to be returned products are recorded. A provision for warranties is recognized when the underlying products or services are sold, generally based on historical warranty data.

Revenue is recognized net of rebates, discounts and similar allowances, and net of sales tax.

Equipment provided to customers

AkzoNobel regularly provides mixing machines, store interior and other assets to its customers at the start of a paints or coatings delivery contract. The delivery of such assets qualifies as a separate performance obligation. Revenue can only be recognized at the moment of transfer of such assets, when there is an agreed sales price or when there is a binding take-or-pay commitment for a minimum quantity of paints or coatings to be acquired by the customer.


AkzoNobel provides certain training, technical or support services to customers as well as shipping and handling activities for its customers. Service revenue is recognized over time when the related services are being provided. When not separately invoiced, part of the sales price of paints or coatings is allocated to such services.

Post-retirement benefits (Note 7, 19)

Contributions to defined contribution plans are recognized in the statement of income as incurred.

Most of our defined benefit pension plans are funded with plan assets that have been segregated in a trust or foundation. We also provide post-retirement benefits other than pensions to certain employees, which are generally not funded. Valuations of both funded and unfunded plans are carried out by independent actuaries based on the projected unit credit method. Post-retirement costs primarily represent the increase in the actuarial present value of the obligation for projected benefits based on employee service during the year and interest on the net defined benefit liability/asset. When the calculation results in a benefit to AkzoNobel, the recognized asset is limited to the present value of economic benefits available in the form of any future refunds from the plan or reductions in future contributions to the plan. An economic benefit is available if it is realizable during the life of the plan, or on the settlement of the plan liabilities. The effect of these so-called asset ceiling restrictions and any changes therein are recognized in other comprehensive income. Remeasurement gains and losses, which arise in calculating our obligations, are recognized in other comprehensive income. When the benefits of a plan improve, the portion of the increased benefits related to past service by employees is recognized as an expense in the statement of income immediately. We recognize gains and losses on the curtailment or settlement of a defined benefit plan when the curtailment or settlement occurs.

Interest on the net defined benefit liability/asset is included in financing expenses related to post-retirement benefits. Other charges and benefits recognized are reported in operating income, unless recorded in other .

Other employee benefits (Note 7, 20)

Provisions for other long-term employee benefits are measured at present value, using actuarial assumptions and methods. Any actuarial gains and losses are recognized in the statement of income in the period in which they arise.

Share-based compensation (Note 7)

AkzoNobel has a performance-related and a restricted share plan as well as a share-matching plan, under which shares are conditionally granted to certain employees. The fair value is measured at grant date and amortized over the three-year period during which the employees normally become unconditionally entitled to the shares with a corresponding increase in shareholders’ equity. Amortization is accelerated in the event of earlier vesting or settlement. In case of a plan modification, the fair value is increased when the change is beneficial to the employee.

Income tax (Note 9)

Income tax expense comprises both current and deferred tax, including effects of changes in tax rates. In determining the amount of current and deferred tax we also take into account the impact of uncertain tax positions and whether additional taxes and interest may be due. Income tax is recognized in the statement of income, unless it relates to items recognized in other comprehensive income or equity.

Current tax includes the expected tax payable and receivable on the taxable income for the year, using tax rates enacted or substantially enacted at reporting date, as well as (any adjustments to) tax payables and receivables with respect to previous years.

Deferred tax is recognized using the liability method on temporary differences arising between the tax bases of assets and liabilities and their carrying amounts in the Consolidated financial statements. We do not recognize deferred tax for the initial recognition of goodwill, the initial recognition of assets or liabilities that affect neither accounting nor taxable profit, and differences related to investments in subsidiaries to the extent that they will probably not reverse in the foreseeable future and we can control the timing of the reversal of the temporary difference. Deferred tax assets are recognized for unused tax losses, tax credits and deductible temporary differences, to the extent that it is probable that future taxable profits will be available against which they can be utilized.

Measurement of deferred tax assets and liabilities is based upon the enacted or substantially enacted tax rates expected to apply to taxable income in the years in which temporary differences are expected to be reversed. Income tax consequences are taken into account in the determination of deferred tax liabilities to the extent earnings are expected to be distributed by subsidiaries in the foreseeable future and AkzoNobel has control over dividend distribution. Deferred tax positions are not discounted.

Earnings per share (Note 10)

Basic is calculated by dividing the profit for the period attributable to shareholders of the company by the weighted average number of common shares outstanding during the year adjusted for any repurchased shares. Diluted earnings per share is calculated by adjusting the weighted average number of common shares outstanding during the year for the diluting effect of the shares of the performance-related share plan, the restricted share plan and the share-matching plan.

Adjusted earnings per share represents the basic earnings per share from continuing operations excluding identified items, after taxes.

Government grants

Government grants related to costs (which include grants related to COVID-19) are deducted from the relevant costs to be compensated in the same period. Government grants to compensate for the cost of an asset are deducted from the cost of the related asset. Emission rights granted by the government are recorded at cost. A provision is recorded if the actual emission is higher than the emission rights granted.

Intangible assets (Note 11)

Intangible assets are valued at cost less accumulated amortization and impairment charges. Intangible assets with an indefinite useful life, such as goodwill and certain brands, are not amortized, but tested for impairment annually using the value-in-use method. Goodwill in a business combination represents the excess of the consideration paid over the net fair value of the acquired identifiable assets, liabilities and contingent liabilities. If the cost of an acquisition is less than the fair value of the net assets of the subsidiary acquired, the difference is recognized directly in the statement of income. The effects of all transactions with non-controlling interest shareholders are recorded in equity if there is no change in control.

Intangible assets with a finite useful life, such as licenses, know-how, certain brands, customer relationships, intellectual property rights, emission rights and capitalized development and software costs, are capitalized at historical cost and amortized on a straight-line basis over the estimated useful life of the assets, which generally ranges from 5 to 40 years for brands with finite useful lives, 5 to 25 years for customer lists and 3 to 15 years for other intangibles. Amortization methods, useful lives and residual values are reassessed annually. Research expenditures are recognized as an expense as incurred.

Property, plant and equipment (Note 12)

Property, plant and equipment are valued at cost less accumulated depreciation and impairment charges. Costs include expenditures that are directly attributable to the acquisition of the asset, including borrowing cost of capital investment projects under construction.

Depreciation is calculated using the straight-line method, based on the estimated useful life of the asset components. The useful life of plant equipment and machinery generally ranges from 10 to 25 years, and for buildings ranges from 20 to 50 years. Land is not depreciated. In the majority of cases, residual value is assumed to be not significant. Depreciation methods, useful lives and residual values are reassessed annually.

Costs of major maintenance activities are capitalized and depreciated over the estimated useful life. Maintenance costs which cannot be separately defined as a component of property, plant and equipment are expensed in the period in which they occur. We recognize conditional asset retirement obligations in the periods in which sufficient information becomes available to reasonably estimate the cash outflow.

Leases (Note 13, 21)

We assess whether a contract is, or contains, a lease at inception. A contract is, or contains, a lease if the contract conveys the right to control the use of an identified asset for a period of time in exchange for a consideration.

As a lessee

At commencement or on modification of a contract that contains a lease component, we allocate the consideration in the contract to each lease component on the basis of its relative stand-alone prices. However, for the leases of cars we have elected not to separate non-lease components and account for the lease and non-lease components as a single lease component.

We recognize a right-of-use asset and a lease liability at the lease commencement date. The right-of-use asset is initially measured at the present value of the lease liability. The right-of-use asset value contains lease prepayments, lease incentives received, the initial direct costs and an estimate of restoration, removal and dismantling costs.

The right-of-use assets are subsequently depreciated using the straight-line method from the commencement date to the end of the lease term or shorter economic life. In addition, the value of right-of-use assets is reduced by impairment losses, if any, and adjusted for certain remeasurements of the lease liability.

The net present value of the lease liability is measured at the discounted value of the lease payments. The liability includes payments to be made in optional periods if the lessee is reasonably certain to exercise an option to extend the lease, or not to exercise an option to terminate the lease. The lease payments comprise the following:

  • Fixed payments (including in substance fixed payments), less any lease incentives
  • Variable lease payments that depend on an index or a rate
  • The exercise price of a purchase option if it is reasonably certain that the option will be exercised
  • Payments of penalties for terminating the lease, if the lease term reflects the lessee exercising an option to terminate the lease
  • Amounts expected to be payable under residual value guarantees

These lease payments are discounted using the interest rate implicit in the lease contract, if that rate can be readily determined. If that rate cannot be readily determined, the incremental borrowing rate is used. We determine our incremental borrowing rates by obtaining interest rates from various external financing sources and make certain adjustments to reflect the term of the lease and type of the asset leased. At the lease commencement dates, we assess whether it is reasonably certain to exercise the extension options. We reassess whether it is reasonably certain to exercise the options, if there is a significant event or significant change in circumstances within our control.

At the commencement date, we assess whether it is reasonably certain that:

  • An option to extend is exercised; or
  • An option to purchase is exercised; or
  • An option to terminate the lease is not exercised

In making these assessments, all relevant facts and circumstances that create an economic incentive for us to exercise, or not to exercise, the option, including any expected changes in facts and circumstances from the commencement date until the exercise date of the option are considered.

Short-term leases and leases of low-value assets

We do not record right-of-use assets and lease liabilities on the balance sheet for leases of low-value assets and short-term leases. We recognize the lease payments associated with these leases as an expense on a straight-line basis over the lease term.

Impairments (Note 11, 12, 13)

We assess the carrying value of intangible assets, property, plant and equipment and right-of-use assets whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying value of an asset may not be recoverable. In addition, for goodwill and other intangible assets with an indefinite useful life, the carrying value is reviewed at least annually or when circumstances indicate the carrying amount may be impaired. If the carrying value of an asset or its cash-generating unit exceeds its estimated recoverable amount, an impairment loss is recognized in the statement of income on the function level of the asset impaired. The assessment for impairment is performed at the lowest level of assets generating largely independent cash inflows. For goodwill and other intangible assets with an indefinite life, we have determined this to be at business unit level (one level below segment).

Except for goodwill, we reverse impairment losses in the statement of income if and to the extent we have identified a change in estimates used to determine the recoverable amount.

Associates and joint ventures (Note 14)

Associates and joint ventures are accounted for using the equity method and are initially recognized at cost. The Consolidated financial statements include our share of the income and expenses of the associates and joint ventures, whereby the result is determined using our accounting principles. When the share of losses exceeds the interest in the investee, the carrying amount is reduced to nil and recognition of further losses is discontinued, unless we have legal or constructive obligations on behalf of the investee.

Inventories (Note 16)

Inventories are measured at the lower of cost and net realizable value. Costs of inventories comprise all costs of purchase, costs of conversion and other costs incurred in bringing the inventories to the present location and condition. The costs of inventories are determined using weighted average cost.

Provisions (Note 20)

We recognize provisions when a present legal or constructive obligation as a result of a past event exists, it is probable that an outflow of economic benefits is required to settle the obligation and the amount can be reliably estimated. Provisions are measured at net present value. The increase of provisions as a result of the passage of time is recognized in the statement of income under financing income and expenses.

Provisions for restructuring of activities are recognized when a detailed and formal restructuring plan has been approved, and the restructuring has either commenced or has been announced publicly. We do not provide for future operating costs.

Financial instruments


All assets are measured at amortized cost, fair value through profit or loss or fair value through other comprehensive income. Financial assets are classified according to a model based on:

  • A contractual cash flow characteristics test A business model dictating how the reporting entity manages its financial assets in order to generate cash flows as either:
    1. Hold to collect contractual cash flows
    2. Collect contractual cash flows and sell
    3. Neither 1 or 2
  • Election of the fair value option in some specific cases in order to eliminate an accounting mismatch

The classification of a financial asset is determined at initial recognition, but if certain conditions are met, an asset might be subject to reclassification.

Valuation and impairment

Financial assets are assessed for impairment either according to the general approach or a simplified approach.

The calculation of impairment under the general approach uses the following stages:

  • 12-month expected credit losses; taking in account possible default events within one year
  • Lifetime expected credit losses in case of an increase in credit risk; through recognition of expected credit losses over the remaining life of the exposure
  • Lifetime expected credit losses, where interest is calculated on the net amount of the receivables less impairment loss

In all above stages, the impairment calculation used at AkzoNobel is based on external credit ratings of involved parties or default rates published by well-known credit risk agencies.

The financial assets included in the general impairment approach are long-term loans and other long-term receivables.

The calculation of impairment under the simplified approach requires recognition of lifetime expected credit loss (no tracking of changes in credit risk). The financial assets included in the simplified impairment approach are trade receivables and the remaining financial assets.


Regular purchases and sales of financial assets and liabilities are recognized on trade date. The initial measurement of all financial instruments is at fair value. Except for derivatives and cash and cash equivalents, the initial measurement of financial instruments is adjusted for directly attributable transaction costs.

Derivative financial instruments (Note 27)

Derivative financial instruments are recognized at fair value on the balance sheet. Fair values are derived from market prices and quotes from dealers and brokers or are estimated using observable market inputs. When determining fair values, credit risk for our contract party, as well as for AkzoNobel, is taken into account.

Changes in the fair value are recognized in the statement of income, unless cash flow hedge accounting or net investment hedge accounting is applied. In those cases, the effective part of the fair value changes is deferred in other comprehensive income and released to the related specific lines in the statement of income or balance sheet at the same time as the hedged item.

Financial non-current assets (Note 15) and Trade and other receivables (Note 17)

Loans and receivables are measured at amortized cost, using the effective interest method, less any impairment losses.

Cash and cash equivalents and Short-term investments (Note 21)

Cash and cash equivalents and short-term investments are measured at fair value. Cash and cash equivalents include all cash balances and other investments that are directly convertible into known amounts of cash. Changes in fair values are included in financing income and expenses.

Long-term and Short-term borrowings (Note 21, 27) and Trade and other payables (Note 22)

Long-term and short-term borrowings, as well as trade and other payables, are measured at amortized cost, using the effective interest rate method. The interest expense on borrowings is included in financing income and expenses. The fair value of borrowings, used for disclosure purposes, is determined based on listed market price, if available. If a listed market price is not available, the fair value is calculated based on the present value of principal and interest cash flows, discounted at the interest rate at the reporting date, considering AkzoNobel’s credit risk.

New IFRS accounting standards

IFRS standards and interpretations thereof not yet in force, which may apply to our Consolidated financial statements for 2021 and beyond, have been assessed for their potential impact. These include among others amendments to IFRS 9, IAS 39, IFRS 7, IFRS 4 and IFRS 16 ‘Interest Rate Benchmark Reform – Phase 2’, amendments to in IFRS 3 ‘References to the Conceptual Framework’, amendments to IAS 16 ‘Property, Plant and Equipment: Proceeds before Intended Use’, amendments to IAS 37 ‘Onerous Contracts – Costs of Fulfilling a Contract’, AIP IFRS 9 ‘Financial instruments – Fees in the ‘10 percent’ test for derecognition of financial liabilities’, IFRS 17 ‘Insurance contracts’ and Amendments to IAS 1 ‘Classification of Liabilities as Current or Non-current’. These changes are not expected to have a material effect on AkzoNobel’s Consolidated financial statements.

Operating income

Operating income is defined in accordance with IFRS and includes the relevant identified items. Adjusted operating income excludes identified items.

Net debt

Defined as long-term borrowings plus short-term borrowings less cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments.

Capital expenditures

The total of investments in property, plant and equipment and investments in intangible assets.

Identified items

Identified items are special charges and benefits, results on acquisitions and divestments, major restructuring and impairment charges and charges related to major legal, environmental and tax cases.


Operating income excluding depreciation and amortization.

Comprehensive income

The change in equity during a period resulting from transactions and other events, other than those changes resulting from transactions with shareholders in their capacity as shareholders.

Comprehensive income

The change in equity during a period resulting from transactions and other events, other than those changes resulting from transactions with shareholders in their capacity as shareholders.

Earnings per share

Net income attributable to shareholders divided by the weighted average number of common shares outstanding during the year. Adjusted earnings per share are the basic earnings per share, excluding identified items and taxes thereon.