Why Issue Mandatory Convertibles? Theory and Empirical Evidence
54 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2003
Date Written: March 2006
Mandatory convertibles, which are equity-linked hybrid securities that automatically convert to equity on a pre-specified date, have become an increasingly popular means of raising capital in recent years (about $20 billion worth issued in 2001 alone). This paper presents the first theoretical and empirical analysis of mandatory convertibles in the literature. We consider a firm facing a financial market characterized by asymmetric information, and significant costs in the event of financial distress. The firm can raise capital either by issuing mandatory convertibles, or by issuing more conventional securities like straight debt, ordinary convertibles, or equity. We show that, in equilibrium, the firm issues straight debt or ordinary convertibles if the extent of asymmetric information facing it is large, but the probability of being in financial distress is relatively small; it issues mandatory convertibles if it faces a smaller extent of asymmetric information but a greater probability of financial distress. Our model provides a rationale for the three commonly observed features of mandatory convertibles: mandatory conversion, capped (or limited) capital appreciation, and a higher dividend yield compared to common stock. We also characterize the equilibrium design of mandatory convertibles. We test the implications of our theory regarding a firm's choice between mandatory and ordinary convertibles and find supporting evidence.
Keywords: mandatory convertibles, ordinary convertibles, financial innovation
JEL Classification: G24, G32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation