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Are US public stock traded corporations, like Intel or Google, forced by law to disclose how much they paid for buying companies and other assets?

How and who is allowed to access this information, if at all?

I know the accounts have to be audited and published to stockholders. However, what does the law say about the amount of detail here? Do stockholders get a total amount or an itemized list of amounts paid for buying companies, patents, real estate, and other assets?

Could they mud the picture using a proxy company for buying assets?

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In general, no

Think about it; Google probably has a fleet of several thousand cars - these are all "other assets". It would be impractical (and uncompetitive) for them to disclose each and every transaction involving their motor vehicle fleet.

Purchases of real property and public companies are a matter of public record (in most places), so these are disclosed. Assets like private companies, "businesses", plant, equipment, motor vehicles, stationary etc. are private matters between the buyer and the seller. The buyer or the seller can of course disclose this information if they want subject to any NDA.

Records of these transactions must be kept for accounting and taxation purposes and the consolidated accounts of a public company are a matter of public record. Line item detail like "Purchase ABC Corporation - $562,000,000" and "Purchase Pens - $7.60" do not make it that far.

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  • ... and computers, and telephones, and keyboards, and monitor stands, and headsets, and ... for a company with a few tens of thousands of employees, that would be a very long list indeed. Plus, when you buy ABC corp, you get all their office equipment, not to mention the pens and post-it notes, too. Do they take inventory?
    – phoog
    Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 5:15
  • @QuoraFeans there are accounting standards in each country that tell you this.
    – Dale M
    Commented Dec 22, 2015 at 1:22

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