Understanding the Role of Intangible Assets in Purchase Price Allocation



Intangible assets play a crucial role in the purchase price allocation (“PPA”) process during mergers and acquisitions (“M&A”) and business combinations. Identifying and valuing these assets accurately is essential to ensure compliance with accounting standards and optimize the financial and tax benefits of the transaction. In this article, we will explore the importance of intangible assets in PPA, discuss common types of intangible assets, such as customer relationships, trademarks, and technology, and explain various valuation techniques used to estimate their fair value.

Importance of Intangible Assets in Purchase Price Allocation


Intangible assets are non-physical assets that hold value for a company, often contributing to its competitive advantage and long-term growth potential. The proper identification and valuation of intangible assets during PPA is essential for several reasons:

  • Compliance with accounting standards: Accurate valuation of intangible assets ensures compliance with accounting standards such as US GAAP and IFRS, which require the recognition and measurement of identifiable intangible assets acquired in a business combination.

  • Financial reporting: Properly valuing intangible assets provides a more accurate reflection of a company’s financial position, enabling better decision-making by management, investors, and other stakeholders.

  • Tax implications: The allocation of the purchase price to intangible assets can impact the company’s tax obligations, as certain intangible assets may be tax-deductible over time through amortization.


Common Types of Intangible Assets


Some common types of intangible assets that may be identified and valued during the PPA process include:

  • Customer relationships: The value of existing customer relationships and the potential for future revenues and profits generated by these customers.

  • Trademarks and brand names: The value of a company’s trademarks and brand names, which contribute to consumer recognition and brand loyalty.

  • Technology and intellectual property: The value of a company’s proprietary technology, patents, copyrights, and trade secrets, which provide a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

  • Licenses and permits: The value of licenses and permits that grant the company exclusive rights to operate in certain markets or industries.

  • Non-compete agreements: The value of agreements that restrict the ability of former owners or employees to compete with the acquired business.


Valuation Techniques for Intangible Assets


Various valuation techniques can be used to estimate the fair value of intangible assets during the PPA process. These techniques include:

  • Income Approach: This approach values an intangible asset based on the present value of the future economic benefits it is expected to generate. The Discounted Cash Flow (“DCF”) method and the Multiperiod Excess Earnings Method (“MEEM”) are common techniques within the income approach.

  • Market Approach: This approach values an intangible asset by comparing it to similar assets that have been recently sold in the market. The Guideline Public Company method (“GPC”) and the Guideline Transaction method (“GTM”) are two primary methods used within the market approach.

  • Cost Approach: This approach values an intangible asset based on the cost to recreate or replace it. The Replacement Cost Method (“RCM”) and the Reproduction Cost Method (“RPR”) are common techniques within the cost approach.


Best Practices for Valuing Intangible Assets


To ensure accurate and reliable valuation of intangible assets during the PPA process, consider the following best practices:

  • Engage experienced valuation professionals: The valuation of intangible assets can be complex and requires specialized knowledge and experience. Engaging qualified valuation professionals can help ensure accurate and reliable results.

  • Use multiple valuation techniques: Employing a combination of valuation techniques can provide a more comprehensive and reliable estimate of an intangible asset’s fair value. The choice of techniques should be based on the nature of the asset, the availability of data, and the specific circumstances of the transaction.

  • Conduct thorough due diligence: Comprehensive due diligence is essential to identify all relevant intangible assets and gather the necessary information for their valuation. This includes reviewing contracts, intellectual property records, customer lists, and other relevant documents.

  • Consider industry-specific factors: Intangible assets can vary significantly across industries, and their value may be influenced by industry-specific factors. Understanding the industry landscape and the competitive dynamics affecting the acquired business can help inform the valuation process.

  • Stay current with accounting standards and regulations: The treatment of intangible assets in PPA is subject to accounting standards and regulations that may change over time. Staying current with these standards and adapting valuation practices accordingly is essential to ensure compliance and avoid potential financial reporting or tax issues.




Intangible assets play a vital role in the purchase price allocation process during mergers and acquisitions and business combinations. Accurate identification and valuation of these assets are essential for compliance with accounting standards, financial reporting, and tax optimization. By understanding common types of intangible assets and applying appropriate valuation techniques, businesses can more accurately reflect their financial position and make better-informed decisions. Engaging experienced valuation professionals and following best practices can further enhance the accuracy and reliability of the intangible asset valuation process, ensuring a successful outcome for all parties involved in the transaction.


Experience the Eton Advantage


At Eton Venture Services, we’re committed to helping you properly report the value of your intangible assets through rigorous and defensible purchase price allocation. Don’t leave your company’s critical financial reporting compliance efforts to chance with software-driven “form” models or inexperienced teams. Trust Eton’s team of experts to provide you with accurate, compliant, and independent valuations that protect your interests and ensure compliance while optimizing tax benefits. Join the industry leaders who have already experienced the benefits of Eton’s exceptional client service and valuation expertise. Let Eton guide you through the complexities of intangible asset valuation for financial reporting purposes. Contact Eton today.

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President & CEO

Chris co-founded Eton Venture Services in 2010 to provide mission-critical valuations to venture-based companies. He works closely with each client’s leadership team, board of directors, internal / external counsel, and independent auditor to develop detailed financial models and create accurate, audit-proof valuations.

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