Negative Goodwill

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DEFINITION of 'Negative Goodwill'

A gain occurring when the price paid for an acquisition is less than the fair value of its net tangible assets. Negative goodwill implies a bargain purchase. Negative goodwill may be listed as a separate line item on the acquiring company's balance sheet and may be considered income. For the purchased company, negative goodwill often indicates a distress sale, and the unfavorable sale conditions lead to a depressed sale price.

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BREAKING DOWN 'Negative Goodwill'

Negative goodwill is based on the concept of goodwill, an intangible asset that represents the worth of a company's brand name, patents, customer base and other items that are difficult to price but that help to make a company valuable. Most of the time, a company will be purchased for more than the value of its tangible assets, and the difference is attributed to goodwill. When the price paid is less than the actual value of the company's net assets, you have negative goodwill.



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