Corporate Hybrid Bonds
Hybrid securities do not constitute a new phenomenon in the Swedish capital markets. Most commonly, hybrids issued by Swedish real estate companies in recent years are preference shares. Corporate hybrid bonds on the other hand may be considered as somewhat of a new-born child in the family of hybrid instruments. These do, as all other hybrid securities, share some equity-like and some debt-like characteristics. Nevertheless, since 2013 the interest for the instrument has grown rapidly and has become a well-accepted, as well as a fairly standardized, source of financing for many well-established corporations around the world. Yet, we have seen very few issues in Sweden and no issues by Swedish real estate companies.
Corporate hybrid bonds could in a rather simplified manner be explained as a subordinated bond with some equity characteristics. Examples of such equity characteristics are perpetual maturity (or at least very long), coupon deferability and the fact that it due to its subordination provides significant loss absorption. Yet, it also holds typical debt-like characteristics such as regular coupon payments and seniority to equity.
The outcome of this research has shown that issuing corporate hybrid bonds could be beneficial to a firm. Coupon payments are, unlike dividend payments to holders of preference shares but alike interest payments on a standard bank loan, tax deductible. Other probable advantages with corporate hybrid bonds are; a stronger credit profile (which potentially could improve the (shadow)credit-rating and thus also the terms of other sources of finance), a diversified investment base as well as diversification from a capital structure perspective.
However, despite the many advantages, numerous obstacles remain. The main shortcoming highlighted among potential issuers is the high pricing of the instrument in relation to other alternatives. Moreover, the lack of Swedish investors investing in hybrid bonds, the assumingly poor liquidity of the product along with the high denomination (piece price) due to regulatory legislations make up for topics of concern among both potential investors and issuers. Although, considering the many benefits, we believe that the weaknesses can be overseen and that there is a potential future use for the product in event of further expansion and acquisition or if the access to capital markets is limited. After all, all good things take time.
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