Off balance sheet arrangements

Commercial commitments

We disclose the maximum potential exposure of certain guarantees, as well as possible recourse provisions that may allow us to recover from third parties amounts paid out under such guarantees. The maximum potential exposure does not allow any discounting of our assessment of actual exposure under the guarantees. The information below reflects our maximum potential exposure under the guarantees, which is higher than our assessment of the expected exposure.


The following table provides quantitative data regarding our third-party guarantees. The maximum potential payments represent a worst-case scenario, and do not reflect our expected results.

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Maximum potential payments

December 31, ($ in millions)



Performance guarantees



Financial guarantees



Indemnification guarantees






The carrying amounts of liabilities recorded in the Consolidated Balance Sheets in respect of the above guarantees were not significant at December 31, 2013 and 2012, and reflect our best estimate of future payments, which we may incur as part of fulfilling our guarantee obligations.

In addition, in the normal course of bidding for and executing certain projects, we have entered into standby letters of credit, bid/performance bonds and surety bonds (collectively “performance bonds”) with various financial institutions. Customers can draw on such performance bonds in the event that the Company does not fulfill its contractual obligations. ABB would then have an obligation to reimburse the financial institution for amounts paid under the performance bonds. There have been no significant amounts reimbursed to financial institutions under these types of arrangements in 2013, 2012 and 2011.

For additional descriptions of our performance, financial and indemnification guarantees see “Note 15 Commitments and contingencies” to our Consolidated Financial Statements.