Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Converting Public Corporations to Natural Finance - Part 1

Part 1 of 2.   This is the basic plan for converting a healthy public corporation.  It is relatively straightforward, offers free choice, but can overpay by not taking full advantage of natural finance principles to bypass the market corruption caused by the price difference between buying 100 shares vs 10M shares.

copied from manifesto.
Converting a public corporation is voluntary by all affected stakeholders. It can be complete, partial, done in stages, and convert bonds, preferred and common shares. Once natural finance conversion has begun, no new bonds or preferred shares can be issued, and common share issues are not recommended..

Bondholders should be given first priority to convert. Secured QCSLs most closely fit the bonds the company considers too expensive for it. If all bondholders converted to unsecured QCSLs, they would all have enhanced security (demand lower yield) by the fact that they are first in line to be paid. Unsecured QCSL conversion for bondholders is essentially a cash redemption of bonds which is sometimes an enterprise right attached to some bonds. Secured QCSLs also offer better security to converting bondholders because in a distressed bankruptcy type scenario, they get theoretically 100% of principal, and they also receive high yields including a non taxable depreciation coupon. Those bondholders that do not convert, continue to have a fixed obligation paid before QCSLs, including principal at maturity, but they lose relative priority in the event of bankruptcy. A net positive to convert. Even when converting to natural financing in a distressed enterprise situation, if the conversion buys a few years survival, bondholders are substantially incentivized to convert. Better value to bondholders through natural finance, means lower borrowing costs to the enterprise.

Preferred shareholders are the only group that are economically-forced to convert in order to keep their relative security and payment regularity. Secured QCSLs match the payment regularity most closely. Non maturing Preferred shares are in fact a scam on its buyers, because the principal is never repaid. The odds that a non-liquor company will eventually (or within 200 years) go bankrupt are over 99.9%. Preferred shares tend not to have sufficient premium over bonds to understand that risk as properly considered. From the enterprise's perspective, paying a pre-profit coupon inflated by the inverse of its untaxed profit rate is equivalent to a preferred coupon. For example, at a 25% tax rate an 8% bond coupon is equivalent after tax to a 6% preferred share coupon (for same maturity date). From the investor perspective, forcing the exchange is forcing a net benefit of additional bond security, and forcing a net benefit is a gift. In most countries, on average, there is an equivalent after tax return to the securities as well. Offering the same optional conversion options to (converted) bondholders after the exchange, provides the same optional choice to preferred shareholders.

Common shares can be converted by either an internal “takeover” bid by management, a partial substantial issuer bid (bid for up to x shares). A company with net assets of 500K, making 100K per year, 10000 shares outstanding, and P/E of 10 has a $100 share price. If half the shares are sold in exchange for QCSLs loans at 10%, then after 8 years (QCSLs are repaid), without any operational improvement by the company, net assets are back to 500K, and the 5000 shares remaining at a P/E of 10 are worth $200. Every rational person who doesn't have direct oversight of management, and therefore cannot vouch for its confidence, would prefer to hold QCSLs (ignoring tax differences) because they are paid faster and more certainly even if the return is the same. From the enterprise perspective, if it can pay less than 10% interest rate (almost certain given profile), then it is net positive to the enterprise and remaining shareholders. Most successful public corporations should be able to achieve natural rates close to “riskless” government bonds (under 5%-6%).

Pensions are a scam/motivational technique on employees designed to keep them needing work. There are tax advantages for both parties, but administration fees and restrictions on cashability are net negatives compared to direct loans/deferred compensation. A pension system can continue under natural financing and invest its assets back into QCSL backed projects, but management may find employees willing to invest more if they provide them with higher returning and more flexible direct deferred compensation.

Bond holders do not in fact need to be bought out, with little risk to the corporation if further QCSLs can be issued to pay interest and principal.
The key to shareholders, is that it is management's duty (mandate of shareholder value maximization) to offer them conversion to natural finance.  Or in my terms, since shareholders can be divided into powerful purpose-holding director determinators, and powerless benefit holders, it is purpose-holders duty to offer benefit-holders their benefits such that purpose remains ideal and unfettered.  Minority shareholders have a common law right to remedies for their deceived powerlessness, and lack of purpose-holding benefits.

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