What is an 'Identifiable Asset'

An identifiable asset is an asset of an acquired company that can be assigned a fair value and can be reasonably expected to provide a benefit for the purchasing company in the future. Identifiable assets can be both tangible and intangible assets. Assets that are not identifiable are usually considered to be goodwill.

BREAKING DOWN 'Identifiable Asset'

If an asset is deemed to be identifiable, the purchasing company records it as part of its assets on its balance sheet. Identifiable assets consist of anything that can be separated from the business and disposed of such as machinery, vehicles, buildings, or other equipment. If an asset is not deemed to be an identifiable asset, then its value is considered part of the goodwill amount arising from the acquisition transaction.

For example, suppose ABC conglomerate company purchases both a smaller manufacturing firm and a smaller start-up internet marketing company. The manufacturing company would likely have most of its value tied up in property, equipment, inventory and other physical assets, so virtually all of its assets would be identifiable. The internet marketing company, on the other hand, would likely have very few identifiable assets, and its value as a company would be based on its future earnings potential. As such, the purchase of the marketing company would generate a lot more goodwill on ABC's books, because it would gain few identifiable assets from the marketing company.

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