Transaction Structuring and Canadian Convertible Debt
53 Pages Posted: 29 May 2008 Last revised: 27 Jan 2013
Date Written: June 21, 2010
We examine whether Canadian firms issuing convertible debt over the period 1996–2003 structured issuances to minimize reported leverage. Over this sample period, some firms using payment-in-kind (PIK) provisions providing them with the option to make interest and/or principal payments in company shares were able to record significant amounts of the issuance as equity. In a sample of 195 convertible debt offerings, we find significant variation in accounting treatment, ranging from firms recording the entire issuance as debt to some recording the entire issuance as equity. We find evidence consistent with the contention that reporting benefits are an important reason why high-leverage corporations with material convertible debt transactions used PIK provisions. In contrast, our evidence suggests that the future financial flexibility ensuing from the use of PIK provisions was an important determinant of income trusts’ use of this feature. We acknowledge, however, that during our sample period PIK provisions simultaneously provide both financial flexibility and reporting benefits to any issuer, whether corporation or trust. Finally, we document a negative share price reaction on the part of convertible debt issuers employing PIK provisions at the time when the likelihood of the introduction of more restrictive accounting rules increased. This negative reaction is driven by the corporations in our sample, with the income trusts largely unaffected. Our findings are relevant to standard setters as they debate alternative models for distinguishing between equity and liabilities.
Keywords: Convertible debt, transaction structuring, liabilities and equity, aggressive reporting
JEL Classification: G12, G32, M41, M43, M44, M52
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation