EBITDA Add-backs in Debt Contracting: A Step Too Far?
58 Pages Posted: 14 Nov 2021
Date Written: November 11, 2021
Financial covenants in syndicated loan agreements often rely on definitions of EBITDA that deviate from the GAAP definition. We document the increased usage of non-GAAP addbacks to EBITDA in recent times. Using the 2013 Interagency Guidance on Leveraged Lending, which we argue led to an exogenous increase in non-GAAP EBITDA addbacks, we show that these addbacks increase the likelihood of loan delinquency and default, and also increase the likelihood of the borrower experiencing a ratings downgrade. Greater use of non-GAAP EBITDA addbacks also makes it more likely that lead arrangers lower their loan share exposures through secondary market sales. Our results highlight that covenants based on customized measures of EBITDA hurt loan performance by worsening lead arrangers' incentives to monitor borrowers and by hampering their ability to take timely corrective actions.
Keywords: Syndicated Loans, Credit Agreement, Financial Covenant, EBITDA, Add-backs, GAAP, Leveraged Lending Guidance, Borrower Performance, Loan Performance, Lead Arranger, Lender Monitoring, Loan Sales
JEL Classification: G21, G23, G28, G32, G34
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation