The capitalization of operating leases: Analysis of the impact on the IBEX 35 companies

Francisca Pardo, Begoña Giner


Purpose: This paper analyzes the consequences of the change in the accounting rules about operating leases in the companies and users of financial information.

Design/methodology/approach: We use the constructive capitalization method to estimate the liabilities and leased assets and perform an ex ante analysis of the regulatory impact in the IBEX 35 non-financial companies. Non-parametric tests are employed to examine the effect on certain ratios, and through a multivariate regression we investigate the business characteristics that explain the variation of EBITDA.

Findings: The ratios under study are significantly affected by the capitalization of operating leases. The explanatory analysis shows that larger companies, which have a higher market valuation and belong to the retail sectors are the ones with a greater increase in EBITDA.

Research limitations/implications: The sample size is small, which implies some caution in the generalization of the results. Certain hypotheses have been introduced to apply the constructive method, although the sensitivity tests confirm that the results are robust.

Practical implications: In certain cases, to avoid non-compliance with restrictions, particularly in debt contracts, contract renegotiations should be initiated. The constructive method yields liabilities and assets significantly smaller than other simpler methods (such as the factor method), so these results can be a relief for certain non-sophisticated users.

Social implications: Investors, shareholders and lenders, and other users will have more transparent information, which should improve their decision-making.

Originality/value: The study of the impact on the magnitudes of the balance sheet and the financial ratios is complemented with a descriptive analysis, which takes into account the industry, and with the modeling of the explanatory factors of the change in EBITDA.


Operating leases, IFRS 16, Constructive capitalization method, Financial ratios, Accounting standard impact

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Intangible Capital, 2004-2023

Online ISSN: 1697-9818; Print ISSN: 2014-3214; DL: B-33375-2004

Publisher: OmniaScience