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Unsecured Credit

See Also:
Debits and Credits
Credit Letter
Direct Tax
Credit Memorandum (memo)

Unsecured Credit Definition

Define unsecured credit as credit not collateralized by an asset. It is a common form of credit used for business. Furthermore, an unsecured credit line comes in many forms, including the following:

Though it may go unmentioned, many businesses use it to successfully finance any of their operations.

Unsecured Credit Meaning

Unsecured credit means credit which, when unpaid, cannot be reclaimed through the seizure of an asset. This is important to note because unsecured credit facilities may be confused with secured credit. Though lenders have other methods to regain the value of the credit they offered (such as a court decree saying the lendee must repay the lendor), there is no asset promised by the receiver of the credit.

On a small scale, unsecured credit loans are more simple to acquire than secured credit. For example, credit cards are the easiest method of credit to acquire outside of the financing of “friends, family, and fools”.

On a large scale, an unsecured credit agreement is fairly difficult to acquire. The example of this would be mezzanine debt financing: mezzanine financing is virtually as difficult to acquire as venture capital. In this situation, companies generally use an unsecured credit facility when they can not receive secured credit. This situation occurs when the company can not meet the requirements or obligations of the secured credit lender or prefer to keep their assets free of obligation.

The business owner makes the final decision on whether secured or unsecured credit is the best decision. A general rule of thumb would be that if the company has more to lose by collateralizing an asset then not receiving the financing, unsecured credit may be their best option. consult a trained CFO to find the best option for your business.

Unsecured Credit Example

For example, Karl is an entrepreneur who has started a company which manufactures precision electronics for the military. Because Karl makes each item to changing specifications, Karl must keep a lot of supplies on hand. He must have a strong base of credit to cope with his customer’s changing demands.

Karl has recently outgrown his current lines of credit. To make matters more complicated, he already promised almost all of his assets as collateral for other loans. With no option left, Karl must find an unsecured credit provider. He knows that credit cards will surely not be able to support his needs. He sees mezzanine debt financing as the only option.

After consulting with a trained CFO, Karl realizes that his company will actually lose profit by receiving the funding. The CFO clearly spelled this out in the financial analysis he provided. It seems the best option is for Karl to grow a little slower. Though he will have to deny some customers, it will ultimately result in a stronger business. Going forward, Karl’s company will be financed by free cash flow. Though Karl does not feel like as much of a “high roller”, he is happy that he made the prudent decision.

unsecured credit, unsecured credit definition

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Mezzanine Debt Financing (Mezzanine Loans)

See Also:
Recapitalizing Your Company Using Mezzanine Financing
Angel Investor
Venture Capitalist
Why Venture Capital
What is a Term Sheet

What is Mezzanine Debt Financing (Mezzanine Loans)?

Mezzanine debt financing is a subordinated and unsecured loan which typically features a warrant. This type of debt has higher interest rates because of its subordinated and unsecured status. It is not backed by collateral. In the event of debtor default, the claims of mezzanine lenders are senior only to the claims of common shareholders. Therefore, use mezzanine debt to finance startup companies with growth potential or to complement other forms of debt in a leveraged buyout.

Like other debt instruments, mezzanine debt includes a contract that stipulates the details of the loan. The contract describes the amount of the loan, the rate of interest and the interest payment schedule, the due date for principal repayment, and whether or not there is a conversion feature. The loan may also allow a portion of the interest payments to be accrued over the life of the loan and paid along with the principal at maturity. This feature is payment-in-kind.

Interest rates on mezzanine loans are substantially higher than other types of loans. This is to compensate the lender for the riskiness of making a subordinated and unsecured loan.


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Mezzanine Lender

Mezzanine lenders are often private equity funds or venture capitalists. Therefore, consider these mezzanine loans speculative investments. The debt instrument provides a stream of income and some downside protection, while the warrant feature offers the potential for upside gains.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Mezzanine Debt Financing

For borrowers, mezzanine debt financing allows companies with less collateral to secure funding for growth. On the other hand, the interest rates on this type of loan are comparatively high. So it is expensive source of capital.

For lenders, mezzanine debt instruments offer higher yields than secured or more senior forms of debt. Also, the warrant feature offers the promise of gains if the borrowing company’s equity increases in value in the future. On the other hand, there is a greater risk of default because the claims are subordinate and unsecured.

Mezzanine Capital

Mezzanine capital refers to subordinated and unsecured debt or preferred equity. It often includes a warrant, or a conversion feature, that allows the lender or investor to convert the debt or preferred stock into a specified quantity of the company’s common stock at a set price within a stated period of time.

Equity Warrants

The equity warrant feature of mezzanine capital allows the lender or investor to convert the loan or preferred stock into a specified quantity of the company’s common stock at a set price within a stated period of time. Design it to give the lender or investor an equity stake in the possible future success of the company.

Mezzanine Meaning

The word “mezzanine” derives from the Italian diminutive form of the word “middle.” Use it to describe the lowest balcony in a theater.

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Mezzanine Debt Financing, mezzanine loans
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Mezzanine Debt Financing, mezzanine loans

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