The Role of Debt Covenants in the Investment Grade Bond Market - The REIT Experiment
Posted: 14 Apr 2016
Date Written: April 12, 2016
In general, investment grade bonds do not offer covenant protection. However, in the case of Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), investment grade REITs tend to include a covenant package that outlines limits on leverage and requires maintaining certain fixed charges and interest coverage ratios. This unique debt financing structure of REITs offers a natural environment to examine the importance and the need of debt covenants in the investment grade bond market. Our research aims to answer the following questions: 1. How common are debt covenants in the investment grade REIT bond market? 2. Are debt covenants binding in this market? 3. Do debt covenants affect the cost of debt? Our findings indicate that, in the REIT market, debt covenants are indeed common practice among investment grade REITs and, surprisingly, we find higher use of covenants by investment grade REITs compared to non-investment grade REITs. We show that debt covenants are seldom binding in this market, as investment grade REITs choose covenants provisions based on accounting ratios for which they seem to have enough slack. Finally, the cost of debt is lower when these investment grade REIT bonds are issued with covenants.
Keywords: Debt covenants; Investment grade bond; REIT
JEL Classification: G12, G32, R30
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation