We are now looking the new IFRS 16 which takes effect Jan 1, 2019. First consider IAS 17 which presented a number of criteria to assess a finance lease
- Asset transfers ownership to lessee at end of lease
- At start of the lease NPV is virtually equal to the FV
- The lease term is close to the economic life of the asset
- The asses of such a specialized nature that only the lessee can use it
- Option to purchase the asset at a much lower price than the fair value at the option date
Under IFRS 16 the criteria are much more direct
- Right of Use (ROU) - Right to control use of the asset
- Right to obtain substantially all economic benefit
- Right to direct use of the asset
You have to look at the type of asset here, 1000 laptops which have an economic life of three years. Over this short period of time the lessee will use the asset fully. The contract will certainly have a clause that the laptops are for the sole use of the lessee. The ultimate users, i.e. lessee's employees must be virtually certain they can use their laptop.
The total value of 1.0 million is a substantial amount and I suspect material. Had the laptops been purchased they would have appeared on the balance sheet. The lessee could have worded the contract in such a manner that it's an operating lease. Under IFRS 16 this option has been significantly limited.
A finance lease results in a liability on the balance sheet. An operating lease does not. There is an immediate effect on ratios where only liabilities are part factored in. The Return of Assets will be lower and the Debt to Equity ratio will be higher. This affects a company's ability to obtain financing at favorable interest rates and covenants or being able to obtain financing at all.
In summary I'm in favor of a finance lease due the nature of the asset, laptops which confer complete use and economic value to the lessee