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Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements

1 Accounting policies

The principal accounting policies applied in the preparation of these consolidated financial statements are set out below.

a. Basis of preparation

These consolidated financial statements have been prepared in accordance with EU-adopted International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and International Financial Reporting Interpretations Committee (IFRIC) interpretations and with those parts of the Companies Act 1985 applicable to companies reporting under IFRS. The Group transitioned from UK GAAP to IFRS on 1 January 2003.

These consolidated financial statements have been prepared under the historical cost convention as modified by the revaluation of financial assets and liabilities (including derivative instruments) at fair value.

(1) Interpretations and amendments to published standards effective in 2006 - The following amendments and interpretations to standards are mandatory for the Group's accounting periods beginning on or after 1 January 2006:

  • IAS 21 'The Effects of Changes in Foreign Currency';
  • IAS 39 (Amendment) 'Cash Flow Hedge Accounting of Forecast Intragroup Transactions';
  • IAS 39 (Amendment) 'The Fair Value Option';
  • IAS 39 and IFRS 4 (Amendment) 'Financial Guarantee Contracts';
  • IFRS 6 'Exploration for and Evaluation of Mineral Resources';
  • IFRIC 4 'Determining whether an Arrangement contains a Lease';
  • IFRIC 5 'Rights to Interests arising from Decommissioning, Restoration and Environmental Rehabilitation Funds';
  • IFRIC 6 'Liabilities arising from Participating in a Specific Market - Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment'.

Management assessed the relevance of these amendments and interpretations with respect to the Group's operations and concluded that they are not relevant or material to the Group.

(2) Standards, interpretations and amendments to published standards that are not yet effective - Certain new standards, amendments and interpretations to existing standards have been published that are mandatory for the Group's accounting periods beginning on or after 1 January 2007 or later periods. The Group has not early adopted any of the new pronouncements which are as follows:

  • IFRS 7 'Financial Instruments: Disclosures' (effective from 1 January 2007). IFRS 7 introduces new disclosures of qualitative and quantitative information about exposure to risks arising from financial instruments, including specific minimum disclosures about credit risk, liquidity risk and market risk.
  • A complementary amendment to IAS 1 'Presentation of Financial Statements - Capital Disclosures' (effective from 1 January 2007). The amendment to IAS 1 introduces disclosures about the level and the management of the capital of an entity.
  • IFRS 8 'Operating Segments' (effective 1 January 2009). IFRS 8 requires an entity to adopt the 'management approach' to reporting on the financial performance of its operating segments, revise explanations of the basis on which the segment information is prepared and provide reconciliations to the amounts recognised in the income statement and balance sheet.

Management is currently assessing the impact of IFRS 7, IFRS 8 and the complementary amendment to IAS 1 on the Group's financial statements.

In addition, management has assessed the relevance of the following amendments and interpretations with respect to the Group's operations:

  • IFRIC 8 'Scope of IFRS 2' (effective for annual periods beginning on or after 1 May 2006). IFRIC 8 requires consideration of transactions involving the issuance of equity instruments - where the identifiable consideration received is less than the fair value of the equity instruments issued - to establish whether or not they fall within the scope of IFRS 2. The Group will apply IFRIC 8 from 1 January 2007, but it is not expected to have any impact on the Group's accounts;
  • IFRIC 10 'Interim Financial Reporting and Impairment' (effective for annual periods beginning on or after 1 November 2006). IFRIC 10 prohibits impairment losses recognised in an interim period on goodwill, investments in equity instruments and investments in financial assets carried at cost to be reversed at a subsequent balance sheet date. The Group will apply IFRIC 10 from 1 January 2007;
  • IFRIC 7 'Applying the Restatement Approach under IAS 29 Financial Reporting in Hyperinflationary Economies' (effective for annual reporting periods beginning on or after 1 March 2006). IFRIC 7 provides guidance on how to apply the requirements of IAS 29 in a reporting period in which an entity identifies the existence of hyperinflation in the economy of its functional currency, when the economy was not hyperinflationary in the prior period. As none of the Group entities have a currency of a hyperinflationary economy as their functional currency, IFRIC 7 is not relevant to the Group's operations; and
  • IFRIC 9 'Reassessment of Embedded Derivatives' (effective for annual periods beginning on or after 1 June 2006). IFRIC 9 requires an entity to assess whether an embedded derivative is required to be separated from the host contract and accounted for as a derivative when the entity first becomes a party to the contract. Subsequent reassessment is prohibited unless there is a change in the terms of the contract that significantly modifies the cash flows that otherwise would be required under the contract, in which case reassessment is required. The Group does not expect IFRIC 9 to have a material impact.

(3) Critical accounting assumptions and judgements - The preparation of financial statements in conformity with IFRS requires the use of certain critical accounting assumptions. It also requires management to exercise its judgement in the process of applying the Group's accounting policies. The areas requiring a higher degree of judgement or complexity, or areas where assumptions and estimates are significant to the consolidated financial statements, are discussed in the relevant accounting policies under the following headings:

  • Intangible assets: Goodwill
  • Intangible assets: Pre-publication assets
  • Royalty advances
  • Taxation
  • Employee benefits: Retirement benefit obligations
  • Revenue recognition.

b. Consolidation

(1) Business combinations - The purchase method of accounting is used to account for the acquisition of subsidiaries by the Group. The cost of an acquisition is measured as the fair value of the assets given, equity instruments issued and liabilities incurred or assumed at the date of exchange, plus costs directly attributable to the acquisition. Identifiable assets and contingent assets acquired and identifiable liabilities and contingent liabilities assumed in a business combination are measured initially at their fair values at the acquisition date. For material acquisitions, the fair value of the acquired intangible assets is determined by an external, independent valuer. The excess of the cost of acquisition over the fair value of the Group's share of the identifiable net assets acquired, after the identification of purchased intangible assets, is recorded as goodwill. See note 1e(1) for the accounting policy on goodwill.

(2) Subsidiaries - Subsidiaries are entities over which the Group has the power to govern the financial and operating policies generally accompanying a shareholding of more than one half of the voting rights. Subsidiaries are fully consolidated from the date on which control is transferred to the Group and are de-consolidated from the date that control ceases.

(3) Joint ventures and associates - Joint ventures are entities in which the Group holds an interest on a long-term basis and which are jointly controlled, with one or more other venturers, under a contractual arrangement. Associates are entities over which the Group has significant influence but not the power to control the financial and operating policies, generally accompanying a shareholding of between 20% and 50% of the voting rights. Investments in joint ventures and associates are accounted for by the equity method and are initially recognised at cost. The Group's investment in associates includes related goodwill.

The Group's share of its joint ventures' and associates' post-acquisition profits or losses is recognised in the income statement, and its share of post-acquisition movements in reserves is recognised in reserves. The Group's share of its joint ventures' and associates' results is recognised as a component of operating profit as these operations form part of the core publishing business of the Group and an integral part of existing wholly owned businesses. The cumulative postacquisition movements are adjusted against the carrying amount of the investment. When the Group's share of losses in a joint venture or associate equals or exceeds its interest in the joint venture or associate, the Group does not recognise further losses, unless the Group has incurred obligations or made payments on behalf of the joint venture or associate.

c. Foreign currency translation

(1) Functional and presentation currency - Items included in the financial statements of each of the Group's entities are measured using the currency of the primary economic environment in which the entity operates (the 'functional currency'). The consolidated financial statements are presented in sterling, which is the Company's functional and presentation currency.

(2) Transactions and balances - Foreign currency transactions are translated into the functional currency using the exchange rates prevailing at the dates of the transactions. Foreign exchange gains and losses resulting from the settlement of such transactions and from the translation at year end exchange rates of monetary assets and liabilities denominated in foreign currencies, are recognised in the income statement, except when deferred in equity as qualifying net investment hedges.

Translation differences on other non-monetary items such as equities held at fair value are reported as part of the fair value gain or loss through the income statement. Fair value adjustments on non-monetary items such as equities classified as available for sale financial assets, are included in the fair value reserve in equity.

(3) Group companies - The results and financial position of all Group companies that have a functional currency different from the presentation currency are translated into the presentation currency as follows:

  1. assets and liabilities are translated at the closing rate at the date of the balance sheet;
  2. income and expenses are translated at average exchange rates;
  3. all resulting exchange differences are recognised as a separate component of equity.

On consolidation, exchange differences arising from the translation of the net investment in foreign entities, and of borrowings and other currency instruments designated as hedges of such investments, are taken to shareholders' equity. The Group treats specific inter-company loan balances, which are not intended to be repaid in the foreseeable future, as part of its net investment. When a foreign entity is sold, such exchange differences are recognised in the income statement as part of the gain or loss on sale.

At the date of transition to IFRS the cumulative translation differences for foreign operations have been deemed to be zero. Any gains and losses on disposals of foreign operations will exclude translation differences arising prior to the transition date.

The principal overseas currency for the Group is the US dollar. The average rate for the year against sterling was $1.84 (2005: $1.81) and the year end rate was $1.96 (2005: $1.72).

d. Property, plant and equipment

Property, plant and equipment is stated at historical cost less depreciation. Land is not depreciated. Depreciation on other assets is calculated using the straight-line method to allocate their cost to their residual values over their estimated useful lives as follows:

Buildings (freehold): 20-50 years

Buildings (leasehold): 50 years (or over the period of the lease if shorter)

Plant and equipment: 3-20 years

The asset's residual values and useful lives are reviewed, and adjusted if appropriate, at each balance sheet date.

The carrying value of an asset is written down to its recoverable amount if the carrying value of the asset is greater than its estimated recoverable amount.

e. Intangible assets

(1) Goodwill - Goodwill represents the excess of the cost of an acquisition over the fair value of the Group's share of the net identifiable assets of the acquired subsidiary or associate at the date of acquisition. Goodwill on acquisitions of subsidiaries is included in intangible assets. Goodwill on acquisitions of associates is included in investments in associates. Goodwill is tested annually for impairment and carried at cost less accumulated impairment losses. The recoverable amounts of cash generating units have been determined based on value in use calculations. These calculations require the use of estimates (see note 12). Goodwill is allocated to cash generating units for the purpose of impairment testing. The allocation is made to those cash generating units that are expected to benefit from the business combination in which the goodwill arose. Gains and losses on the disposal of an entity include the carrying amount of goodwill relating to the entity sold. IFRS 3 'Business Combinations' has not been applied retrospectively to business combinations before the date of transition to IFRS. Subject to the transition adjustments to IFRS required by IFRS 1, the accounting for business combinations before the date of transition has been grandfathered.

(2) Acquired software - Software separately acquired for internal use is capitalised at cost. Software acquired in material business combinations is capitalised at its fair value as determined by an independent valuer. Acquired software is amortised on a straight line basis over its estimated useful life of between three and five years.

(3) Internally developed software - Internal and external costs incurred during the preliminary stage of developing computer software for internal use are expensed as incurred. Internal and external costs incurred to develop computer software for internal use during the application development stage are capitalised if the Group expects economic benefits from the development. Capitalisation in the application development stage begins once the Group can reliably measure the expenditure attributable to the software development and has demonstrated its intention to complete and use the software. Internally developed software is amortised on a straight-line basis over its estimated useful life of between three and five years.

(4) Acquired intangible assets - Acquired intangible assets comprise publishing rights, customer lists and relationships, technology, trade names and trademarks. These assets are capitalised on acquisition at cost and included in intangible assets. Intangible assets acquired in material business combinations are capitalised at their fair value as determined by an independent valuer. Intangible assets are amortised over their estimated useful lives of between two and 20 years, using a depreciation method that reflects the pattern of their consumption.

(5) Pre-publication assets - Pre-publication costs represent direct costs incurred in the development of educational programmes and titles prior to their publication. These costs are recognised as current intangible assets where the title will generate probable future economic benefits and costs can be measured reliably. Pre-publication assets are amortised upon publication of the title over estimated economic lives of five years or less, being an estimate of the expected operating life cycle of the title, with a higher proportion of the amortisation taken in the earlier years. The investment in pre-publication assets has been disclosed as part of the cash generated from operations in the cash flow statement (see note 31).

The assessment of the recoverability of pre-publication assets and the determination of amortisation profile involve a significant degree of judgement based on historical trends and management estimation of future potential sales. An incorrect amortisation profile could result in excess amounts being carried forward as intangible assets that would otherwise have been written off to the income statement in an earlier period. Reviews are performed regularly to estimate recoverability of pre-publication assets. The carrying amount of pre-publication assets is set out in note 17.

f. Other financial assets

Other financial assets, designated as available for sale investments, are non-derivative financial assets measured at estimated fair value. Changes in the fair value are recorded in equity in the fair value reserve. On the subsequent disposal of the asset, the net fair value gains or losses are taken through the income statement.

g. Inventories

Inventories are stated at the lower of cost and net realisable value. Cost is determined using the first in first out (FIFO) method. The cost of finished goods and work in progress comprises raw materials, direct labour, other direct costs and related production overheads. Net realisable value is the estimated selling price in the ordinary course of business, less estimated costs necessary to make the sale. Provisions are made for slow moving and obsolete stock.

h. Royalty advances

Advances of royalties to authors are included within trade and other receivables when the advance is paid less any provision required to adjust the advance to its net realisable value. The realisable value of royalty advances relies on a degree of management judgement in determining the profitability of individual author contracts. If the estimated realisable value of author contracts is overstated then this will have an adverse effect on operating profits as these excess amounts will be written off. The recoverability of royalty advances is based upon an annual detailed management review of the age of the advance, the future sales projections for new authors and prior sales history of repeat authors. The royalty advance is expensed at the contracted or effective royalty rate as the related revenues are earned. Royalty advances which will be consumed within one year are held in current assets. Royalty advances which will be consumed after one year are held in non-current assets.

i. Newspaper development costs

Investment in the development of newspaper titles consists of measures to increase the volume and geographical spread of circulation. The measures include additional and enhanced editorial content, extended distribution and remote printing. These costs are expensed as incurred as they do not meet the criteria under IAS 38 to be capitalised as intangible assets.

j. Cash and cash equivalents

Cash and cash equivalents in the cash flow statement include cash in hand, deposits held at call with banks, other short-term highly liquid investments with original maturities of three months or less, and bank overdrafts. Bank overdrafts are included in borrowings in current liabilities in the balance sheet.

k. Share capital

Ordinary shares are classified as equity.

Incremental costs directly attributable to the issue of new shares or options are shown in equity as a deduction, net of tax, from the proceeds.

Where any Group company purchases the Company's equity share capital (Treasury shares) the consideration paid, including any directly attributable incremental costs (net of income taxes) is deducted from equity attributable to the Company's equity holders until the shares are cancelled, reissued or disposed of. Where such shares are subsequently sold or reissued, any consideration received, net of any directly attributable incremental transaction costs and the related income tax effects, is included in equity attributable to the Company's equity holders.

l. Borrowings

Borrowings are recognised initially at fair value, which is proceeds received net of transaction costs incurred. Borrowings are subsequently stated at amortised cost with any difference between the proceeds (net of transaction costs) and the redemption value being recognised in the income statement over the period of the borrowings using the effective interest method. Accrued interest is included as part of borrowings. Where a debt instrument is in a fair value hedging relationship, an adjustment is made to its carrying value to reflect the hedged risk. Interest on borrowings is expensed as incurred.

m. Derivative financial instruments

Derivatives are initially recognised at fair value at the date of transition to IAS 39 (1 January 2005) or, if later, on the date a derivative is entered into.Derivatives are subsequently remeasured at their fair value. The fair value of derivatives has been determined by using market data and the use of established estimation techniques such as discounted cash flow and option valuation models. The Group designates certain of the derivative instruments within its portfolio to be hedges of the fair value of its bonds (fair value hedges) or hedges of net investments in foreign operations (net investment hedges).

Changes in the fair value of derivatives that are designated and qualify as fair value hedges are recorded in the income statement, together with any changes in the fair value of the hedged asset or liability that are attributable to the hedged risk.

The effective portion of changes in the fair value of derivatives that are designated and qualify as net investment hedges are recognised in equity. Gains and losses accumulated in equity are included in the income statement when the corresponding foreign operation is disposed of. Gains or losses relating to the ineffective portion are recognised immediately in finance income or finance costs in the income statement.

Certain derivatives do not qualify or are not designated as hedging instruments. Such derivatives are classified at fair value and any movement in their fair value is recognised in finance income or finance costs in the income statement immediately.

n. Taxation

Current tax is recognised on the amounts expected to be paid or recovered under the tax rates and laws that have been enacted or substantively enacted at the balance sheet date.

Deferred income tax is provided, using the liability method, on temporary differences arising between the tax bases of assets and liabilities and their carrying amounts.Deferred income tax is determined using tax rates and laws that have been enacted or substantively enacted by the balance sheet date and are expected to apply when the related deferred tax asset is realised or the deferred income tax liability is settled.

Deferred tax assets are recognised to the extent that it is probable that future taxable profit will be available against which the temporary differences can be utilised.

Deferred income tax is provided in respect of the undistributed earnings of subsidiaries other than where it is intended that those undistributed earnings will not be remitted in the foreseeable future.

Current and deferred tax are recognised in the income statement, except when the tax relates to items charged or credited directly to equity, in which case the tax is also recognised in equity.

The Group is subject to income taxes in numerous jurisdictions. Significant judgement is required in determining the estimates in relation to the worldwide provision for income taxes. There are many transactions and calculations for which the ultimate tax determination is uncertain during the ordinary course of business. The Group recognises liabilities for anticipated tax audit issues based on estimates of whether additional taxes will be due. Where the final tax outcome of these matters is different from the amounts that were initially recorded, such differences will impact the income tax and deferred tax provisions in the period in which such determination is made.

Deferred tax assets and liabilities require management judgement in determining the amounts to be recognised. In particular, significant judgement is used when assessing the extent to which deferred tax assets should be recognised with consideration given to the timing and level of future taxable income together with any future tax planning strategies.

o. Employee benefits

(1) Retirement benefit obligations - The liability in respect of defined benefit pension plans is the present value of the defined benefit obligations at the balance sheet date less the fair value of plan assets. The defined benefit obligation is calculated annually by independent actuaries using the projected unit credit method. The present value of the defined benefit obligation is determined by discounting estimated future cash flows using yields on high quality corporate bonds which have terms to maturity approximating the terms of the related liability.

The determination of the pension cost and defined benefit obligation of the Group's defined benefit pension schemes depends on the selection of certain assumptions, which include the discount rate, inflation rate, salary growth, longevity and expected return on scheme assets.Differences arising from actual experience or future changes in assumptions will be reflected in subsequent periods (actuarial gains and losses).

Actuarial gains and losses arising from differences between actual and expected returns on plan assets, experience adjustments on liabilities and changes in actuarial assumptions are recognised immediately in the statement of recognised income and expense.

The service cost, representing benefits accruing over the year, is included in the income statement as an operating cost. The unwinding of the discount rate on the scheme liabilities and the expected return on scheme assets are presented as finance costs or finance income.

Obligations for contributions to defined contribution pension plans are recognised as an operating expense in the income statement as incurred.

(2) Other post-retirement obligations - The Group provides certain healthcare and life assurance benefits. The principal plans are unfunded. The expected costs of these benefits are accrued over the period of employment, using an accounting methodology which is the same as that for defined benefit pension plans. The liabilities and costs relating to other post-retirement obligations are assessed annually by independent qualified actuaries.

(3) Share-based payments - The Group has a number of employee option and share plans. The fair value of options or shares granted is recognised as an employee expense after taking into account the Group's best estimate of the number of awards expected to vest. Fair value is measured at the date of grant and is spread over the vesting period of the option or share. The fair value of the options granted is measured using whichever of the Black-Scholes, Binomial and Monte Carlo model is most appropriate to the award. The fair value of shares awarded is measured using the share price at the date of grant unless another method is more appropriate. Any proceeds received are credited to share capital and share premium when the options are exercised. The Group has applied IFRS 2 'Share-based Payment' retrospectively to all options granted but not fully vested at the date of transition to IFRS.

p. Provisions

Provisions are recognised when the Group has a present legal or constructive obligation as a result of past events, it is more likely than not that an outflow of resources will be required to settle the obligation and the amount can be reliably estimated. Provisions are discounted to present value where the effect is material.

The Group recognises a provision for deferred consideration in the period that an acquisition is made and the Group becomes legally committed to making the payment.

The Group recognises a provision for integration and reorganisation costs in the period in which the Group becomes legally or constructively committed to making the payment.

The Group recognises a provision for onerous lease contracts when the expected benefits to be derived from a contract are less than the unavoidable costs of meeting the obligations under the contract. The provision is based on the present value of future payments for surplus leased properties under non-cancellable operating leases, net of estimated sub-leasing revenue.

q. Revenue recognition

Revenue comprises the fair value of the consideration received or receivable for the sale of goods and services net of value-added tax and other sales taxes, rebates and discounts, and after eliminating sales within the Group. Revenue is recognised as follows:

Revenue from the sale of books is recognised when title passes. A provision for anticipated returns is made based primarily on historical return rates. If these estimates do not reflect actual returns in future periods then revenues could be understated or overstated for a particular period.

Circulation and advertising revenue is recognised when the newspaper or other publication is published. Subscription revenue is recognised on a straight-line basis over the life of the subscription.

Where a contractual arrangement consists of two or more separate elements that can be provided to customers either on a stand-alone basis or as an optional extra, such as the provision of supplementary materials with textbooks, revenue is recognised for each element as if it were an individual contractual arrangement.

Revenue from multi-year contractual arrangements, such as contracts to process qualifying tests for individual professions and government departments, is recognised as performance occurs. The assumptions, risks, and uncertainties inherent in long-term contract accounting can affect the amounts and timing of revenue and related expenses reported. Certain of these arrangements, either as a result of a single service spanning more than one reporting period or where the contract requires the provision of a number of services that together constitute a single project, are treated as long-term contracts with revenue recognised on a percentage of completion basis. Losses on contracts are recognised in the period in which the loss first becomes foreseeable. Contract losses are determined to be the amount by which estimated total costs of the contract exceed the estimated total revenues that will be generated by the contract.

On certain contracts, where the Group acts as agent, only commissions and fees receivable for services rendered are recognised as revenue. Any third party costs incurred on behalf of the principal that are rechargeable under the contractual arrangement are not included in revenue.

Income from recharges of freight and other activities which are incidental to the normal revenue generating activities is included in other income.

r. Leases

Leases of property, plant and equipment where the Group has substantially all the risks and rewards of ownership are classified as finance leases. Finance leases are capitalised at the commencement of the lease at the lower of the fair value of the leased property and the present value of the minimum lease payments. Each lease payment is allocated between the liability and finance charges to achieve a constant rate on the finance balance outstanding. The corresponding rental obligations, net of finance charges, are included in financial liabilities - borrowings. The interest element of the finance cost is charged to the income statement over the lease period to produce a constant periodic rate of interest on the remaining balance of the liability for each period. The property, plant and equipment acquired under finance leases is depreciated over the shorter of the useful life of the asset or the lease term.

Leases where a significant portion of the risks and rewards of ownership are retained by the lessor are classified as operating leases by the lessee. Payments made under operating leases (net of any incentives received from the lessor) are charged to the income statement on a straight-line basis over the period of the lease.

s. Dividends

Dividends are recorded in the Group's financial statements in the period in which they are approved by the Company's shareholders. Interim dividends are recorded in the period in which they are approved and paid.

t. Non-current assets held for sale and discontinued operations

Non-current assets are classified as assets held for sale and stated at the lower of carrying amount and fair value less costs to sell if it is intended to recover their carrying amount principally through a sale transaction rather than through continuing use. No depreciation is charged in respect of non-current assets classified as held for sale. Amounts relating to non-current assets held for sale are classified as discontinued operations in the income statement.

u. Trade receivables

Trade receivables are stated at fair value less provision for bad and doubtful debts and anticipated future sales returns (see also note 1q).

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