What is Financial structuring?
Financial structuring is the process of arranging a company’s financial obligations/liabilities in such a way that it provides more accurate predictability and allows the company to better meet its financial targets.
One example of this would be restructuring debt to reduce interest expense. Financial structuring is often done for companies that are experiencing high levels of debt and need a strategy to better manage their balance sheets.
Fintalent’s financial structuring consultants list other examples to include restructuring assets, such as immovable assets, plant and equipment or intangible assets like intellectual property, or reaffirming debts so they are dischargeable upon insolvency.
Financial restructuring on the other hand is a process that takes place in a bankruptcy process where the aim is to reorganize the debts so that they may be discharged upon insolvency. Financial restructuring will always have more flexibility than financial structuring. Although financial structuring can take place within the normal course of business, it is often done at financial close after the company has been set up.
It also requires an agreement between all parties who are involved in financing the company so there are no clashes of interest between them. This may be achieved through negotiation or by using a special professional independent party who is experienced in such matters, such as an Executive search firm.
The parties involved in financial structuring include the company itself, its lenders and its shareholders. Although the company is usually the party that provides information, it can also be a bank or an institution.
Executives of a bank or institution may be responsible for financial structuring, but it can also be outsourced to a specialized professional firm. Where this type of restructuring is used, it is usually to produce a greater yield on investment or to allow the company to attain better value in some specific area. It may also be used by companies looking for more flexibility in their future expansion plans. This is referred to as “forward trading”. This might involve a company making agreements with a supplier or customer, where the two parties agree to make future arrangements. For example, it may be that the bank expects to obtain more yield from a company’s debt in the future than in its present condition, and therefore wants to tie up its debt in financial structuring as soon as possible.
To achieve this, the company may agree that payment of any interest and other obligations will only be made when there is an adequate increase in yield on investment. This could mean that some of the money paid now is not paid at all if economic conditions worsen over the next three years.
In a financial restructuring, information is usually provided by the company and its lenders. This means that there can be clashes of interest between parties that assume different roles, such as those who provide loans or take deposits.
This can give rise to problems if the due date for a payment is not met because the creditor does not place enough emphasis on the risk of late payment. As a result, it might have to be paid in full (in which case it will have to increase its yield) or a part may have to be paid (then reducing interest rate).
Generally speaking, financial structuring aims to optimize net present value and debt ratios. Although this may sound simple, it can become very complex. The process is not just as simple as it sounds, because the process involves looking at all financial obligations that the company has and deciding which ones can be restructured.
In some cases, this may require special skills and knowledge of a complex market where very few people have access to information. Such information is usually provided by the company itself, but there may be instances where the creditors will want to use their own specialists.
There may also be situations where one creditor may want to obtain more money from the restructuring than another creditor, or where a creditor tries to obtain information that does not pertain to it. As a result, there may be conflicts in information between creditors. Also, there may be a situation where the creditor objects to the restructuring of payments, but this is not something that can be forced on a company.
In some cases, it might be possible to go around the creditor by using other creditors as intermediaries, but that is more complicated and again involves a lot of communications.
Ways financial structuring can fail.
If debt is restructured too early it may be difficult for the company to pay interest on its new principal and continue with its normal operations.
Conversely, if debt is restructured too late, it may be difficult to pay instalments on the interest. This is especially true when the company is a large one that needs a lot of money to service its debts, but has low levels of liquidity (i.e. it does not have enough working capital to meet payments due in the next few months).
A company may also fail to get any response from creditors in its financial restructuring. This can happen even if it offers the creditors more yield than expected. Many times creditors will not want to agree that a restructuring has taken place until they are issued with documentation.
This can be because the company did not provide them with their own financial information and they may have to do this themselves. The creditors may also wish to insist on a less favorable restructuring that would increase the overall debt than what is suggested by the company itself. In this case, it might be better for the company to simply go ahead and pay instalments (even if it reduces interest rates) until there is better news about its financial performance.
It is not uncommon for a company to ask for financial restructuring after a fire sale. This usually occurs when a company is looking to sell some or all of its assets in an effort to solve its liquidity problems. The owners are usually looking for an immediate cash infusion of money and the creditors will want the money to be paid back as quickly as possible. As a result, the loans may be restituted with rather high interest rates, and even if there are no legal problems with bankruptcy, it may be difficult for the company to pay interest on its new debt in time. Therefore, it might take some time before things return to normal.