In accounting, goodwill is an intangible asset that represents the excess of the purchase price paid for a company over the fair market value of its net identifiable assets (such as tangible assets, liabilities, and intangible assets like patents or trademarks).

Goodwill can arise from various factors, including a company’s reputation, brand name, customer relationships, intellectual property, and workforce. It represents the value of the intangible assets that are not separately identifiable and can be difficult to value.

When a company acquires another company, the purchase price paid typically exceeds the value of the acquired company’s tangible and identifiable intangible assets. The excess amount is recognized as goodwill on the acquirer’s balance sheet. Goodwill is then subject to annual impairment tests to determine if the value has declined and requires an adjustment.

In financial reporting, goodwill is subject to accounting rules that require regular testing and possible write-downs if there is a decline in value. If the value of the goodwill decreases, then the company is required to write down the asset on the balance sheet, which can result in a lower reported net income.

Goodwill is an important concept in mergers and acquisitions, as it reflects the value of intangible assets that can be difficult to quantify. It is often a significant part of the purchase price in M&A transactions and can impact a company’s financial statements for many years following the acquisition.