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Part A: Background

In January, Gloria Kan, CEO of Kan Enterprises, sat in her corner office overlooking Hong Kong harbour, puzzling over the group’s most recent acquisition, Maple Products (“MP”). This business, which operates out of Leeds, UK, should have resulted in a good return for the Kan group, but something did not seem quite right.

Kan Enterprises is a conglomerate with subsidiaries and joint ventures in more than 60 countries; its operations include construction, manufacturing, and telecommunications. The primary business of MP is to sell air conditioning pumps, which it does throughout Europe. MP also sells accessories to repair and maintain the pumps, but around 90% of turnover and profits are from the pumps themselves. MP purchases kits for making the air conditioning pumps, mainly from East Asia, and assembles them at its factory in Leeds. Kan Enterprises purchased MP 15 months ago and agreed on budgets with the managing director shortly after that. Gloria Kan had expected the business to generate annual profits of between 10 and 12 million GBP.

Management Incentives

Bonuses for the directors of MP were set at the start of the budget year based on return on assets (ROA), as shown in Table 1. ROA is calculated as the profit for the year divided by the average of the opening and closing asset base (total assets less current liabilities), as recorded in the management accounts.

Maple Products owns its premises in Leeds outright and the land and buildings were revalued three years ago; the revalued amount is recorded in the management accounts (net of depreciation). The plant and machinery in Leeds is old but serviceable and currently has a very low net book value. Due to frequent shipping delays, MP holds high levels of raw materials inventory; trade receivable levels are also high because MP sells to major wholesalers who negotiate long periods of credit. All these factors contribute to the asset base used in the calculation of ROA.

ROA is the standard measure used by Kan Enterprises for all its divisions. The median ROA in the air conditioning sector is 14%. The top quartile reports a ROA of 17% or more.

Table 1. Return on Assets



Budgeted profits for the year


Asset base at the start of the year


Budgeted asset base at the end of the year


Average asset base


ROA (using average of opening and closing assets)


Note: ROA: Return on assets

  • Bonus Ratchet

The agreement Kan Enterprises established with the team at MP was that when the ROA exceeds 15%, the Maple Products directors receive a bonus equal to 10% of salary. There is also an incentive ratchet, with a bonus of 15% of salary if ROA exceeds 18.5%, or a bonus of 20% of salary if ROA exceeds 22%.

The base bonus (10% of salary) results in directors’ total remuneration being around the median for the sector. A bonus of 15% of salary puts the directors just below the top quartile for the sector, while a bonus of 20% of salary puts the directors just below the top decile for the sector.

Detail of Budgeted Profit for the Year

Gloria Kan inspected the detailed original budget for Maple Products (Table 2), prepared the previous January.

Table 2. Original Budgeted Profit for Year Ended 31 December

Units sold


Budget item (GBP)

Per unit


Sales revenues – Europe



Variable costs

Direct materials



Direct labour



Variable production overhead



Variable selling expenses



Total variable costs




Contribution from pumps



Net income from repairs and maintenance


Profits before fixed costs


Fixed costs

Fixed production overhead


Fixed selling expenses


Fixed administration costs


Total fixed costs


Budgeted profit for the year


The managing director of MP has overall responsibility for achieving the profit for the year; this director is also responsible for MP investment decisions.

EMEA Regional Report

The team in charge of businesses in the EMEA (Europe, the Middle East, and Africa) region also prepared business notes, which include details on Maple Products. Some events had occurred after the original budget was drawn up and were not reflected in the figures in Table 2.

The EMEA report noted that a new sales office had been set up in April for Maple Products using unoccupied space at Kan Enterprises’ headquarters in Hong Kong, to take advantage of Kan Enterprises’ contacts in the Asia-Pacific region. The estimate for sales in the Asia-Pacific region at the time of this development was in the order of 300,000 units from April to December (this would have resulted in 4,200,000 total units sold for the year). However, the sales office had been enormously successful, resulting in 600,000 units sold in the Asia-Pacific region, and therefore worldwide sales of 4,500,000 units for the year.

Part A Discussion Questions

Complete these tasks before moving on.

Breakout session: Taking on the role of a director in Maple Products, how might the incentive scheme affect your behaviour as a director throughout the year? Would you have been largely in favour or against the expansion into the Asia-Pacific region? Working in teams, collate your views to share with the class.

Using the budgeted data in Table 2, calculate (a) the total budgeted profits for sales of 4,200,000 units and 4,500,000 units and (b) the sales volume variance (differences in profits from the original budgeted profits) for sales of 4,200,000 units and 4,500,000 units. Note: Net income from repairs and maintenance is not expected to change with the increase in output because most new units do not require repairs or maintenance in the first year.

Calculate the budgeted ROA for sales outputs of 4,200,000 and 4,500,000 units. Assume that any additional profits over the original budget will be invested in the business and therefore increase the budgeted closing asset base.

State the budgeted directors’ bonuses as a percentage of salary, for sales of 4,200,000 units and 4,500,000 units, based on your calculations in Question 3. Briefly comment on your results in the light of your answers to Question 1.