The Financing Principle

Every business, no matter how large and complex it is, is ultimately funded with a mix of borrowed money (debt) and owner's funds (equity). With a publicly trade firm, debt may take the form of bonds and equity is usually common stock. In a private business, debt is more likely to be bank loans and an owner's savings represent equity. While we consider the existing mix of debt and equity and its implications for the minimum acceptable hurdle rate as part of the investment principle, we throw open the question of whether the existing mix is the right one in the financing principle section. While there might be regulatory and other real world constraints on the financing mix that a business can use, there is ample room for flexibility within these constraints. We begin this section in chapter 7, by looking at the range of choices that exist for both private businesses and publicly traded firms between debt and equity. We then turn to the question of whether the existing mix of financing used by a business is the "optimal" one, given our objective function of maximizing firm value, in chapter 8. While the tradeoff between the benefits and costs of borrowing are established in qualitative terms first, we also look at two quantitative approaches to arriving at the optimal mix in chapter 8. In the first approach, we examine the specific conditions under which the optimal financing mix is the one that minimizes the minimum acceptable hurdle rate. In the second approach, we look at the effects on firm value of changing the financing mix.

When the optimal financing mix is different from the existing one, we map out the best ways of getting from where we are (the current mix) to where we would like to be (the optimal) in chapter 9, keeping in mind the investment opportunities that the firm has and the need for urgent responses, either because the firm is a takeover target or under threat of bankruptcy. Having outlined the optimal financing mix, we turn our attention to the type of financing a business should use, i.e., whether it should be long term or short term, whether the payments on the financing should be fixed or variable, and if variable, what it should be a function of. Using a basic proposition that a firm will minimize its risk from financing and maximize its capacity to use borrowed funds if it can match up the cash flows on the debt to the cash flows on the assets being financed, we design the perfect financing instrument for a firm. We then add on additional considerations relating to taxes and external monitors (equity research analysts and ratings agencies) and arrive at fairly strong conclusions about the design of the financing.

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Responses

  • madoc
    What is financing principle?
    8 years ago

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