Note 6 Contingent liabilities
The Company has issued a support letter to a surety institution for the issuance of surety bonds on behalf of Group companies. The amount issued under this letter was CHF 741,900 thousand as of December 31, 2015 and CHF 742,200 thousand as of December 31, 2014.
Furthermore, the Company has Keep-well agreements with certain Group companies. A Keep-well agreement is a shareholder agreement between the Company and a Group company. These agreements provide for maintenance of a minimum net worth in the Group company and the maintenance of 100 percent direct or indirect ownership by the Company.
The Keep-well agreements additionally provide that if at any time the Group company has insufficient liquid assets to meet any payment obligation on its debt (as defined in the agreements) and has insufficient unused commitments under its credit facilities with its lenders, the Company will make available to the Group company sufficient funds to enable it to fulfill such payment obligation as it falls due. A Keep-well agreement is not a guarantee by the Company for payment of the indebtedness, or any other obligation, of a Group company. No party external to the ABB Group is a party to any Keep-well agreement.
In addition, the Company has provided certain guarantees securing the performance of Group companies in connection with commercial paper programs, indentures or other debt instruments to enable them to fulfill the payment obligation under such instruments as they fall due. The amount guaranteed under these instruments was CHF 5,727,720 thousand as of December 31, 2015 and CHF 5,904,174 thousand as of December 31, 2014.
Furthermore, the Company is the guarantor in the Group’s USD 2 billion multicurrency revolving credit facility, maturing in 2020 but no amounts were outstanding at December 31, 2015 and 2014.
The Company through certain of its direct and indirect subsidiaries is involved in various regulatory and legal matters. The Company’s direct and indirect subsidiaries have made certain related accruals as further described in “Note 15 Commitments and contingencies” to the Consolidated Financial Statements of ABB Ltd. As described in the note, there could be material adverse outcomes beyond the accrued liabilities.
The Company is part of a value added tax Group and therefore is jointly liable to the Swiss Federal Tax Department for the value added tax liabilities of the other members.