Quasi-equity is an innovative debt instrument that has some of the characteristics of equity. It’s also like modern art.
That’s according to Hristo Stoykov, head of growth capital and innovation finance at the European Investment Bank. “It’s like modern art. You have to look from different angles and everybody sees a different thing,” Hristo says on A Dictionary of Finance podcast.
Hristo explains why a company would use quasi-equity, which he also calls “venture debt.” A company that has shown its product works and that people are interested in it needs to scale-up. But if it sells equity, it will dilute the ownership of its founders and it might find banks reluctant to lend because it lacks a credit history. Quasi-equity bears the same risk as equity without diluting the founders, and therefore pays off more like equity than traditional debt.
The EIB is one of the few players in the quasi-equity market alongside Silicon Valley Bank and Kreos Capital.
Pilar Solano joins Hristo on the podcast. She’s head of infrastructure new products and special transactions at the EIB. She points out that quasi-equity is a kind of hybrid. Her team uses a different form of hybrid to lend to big utilities. It’s called a corporate hybrid bond.
A corporate hybrid bond can be traded or privately placed. It has characteristics of equity and debt, so some of the bond can appear as equity on the company’s balance sheet. That’s useful to big utilities, because ratings agencies will allow them to raise the debt they need for their massive operational expenditures while keeping their ratings stable.
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