Friday, July 16, 2010

409A valuation and mark-to-market reconciliation

409A valuation, as we know by now, is supposed to be a legally sound valuation, though some offshore companies would never get this concept due to the poor legal environments in their own countries. But what about the FAS 156/157 US GAAP mark-to-market accounting that venture capitalists and other institutional investors are supposed to maintain? Currently, the 409A valuation study and US GAAP mark-to-market valuation study are two different projects. We are not sure how this can be the case. In a 409A valuation, not only is the minority common stock valued, but the pre-discount(if any discounts are allowed at all for institutional stock) values of institutional investor held preferred stock is also valued. Shouldn't this preferred stock value reconcile with the mark-to-market accounting of preferred stocks in a portfolio held by VCs? I believe the jury is out on this one and there is no clear cut direction from the FASB or the audit firms. One line of thinking is that companies are private for a reason, and should not be subject to such reconciliations. But if the fair market value definitions of both 409A and US GAAP mark-to-market accounting are the same, I am unable to see why there should be two different valuations. 409A valuations, for the most part, mark down the valuation offered by VC firms during a term sheet financing, as a VC financing valuation cannot be fully supported as the only method of valuation. Therefore, there is a conflict right away in that VCs have to mark down their portfolio values.I see this as an area of conflict in the future and currently we are unable to determine which way the tide will turn.

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