Off-Balance-Sheet Financing

Definition of 'Off-Balance-Sheet Financing'


A form of financing in which large capital expenditures are kept off of a company's balance sheet through various classification methods. Companies will often use off-balance-sheet financing to keep their debt to equity (D/E) and leverage ratios low, especially if the inclusion of a large expenditure would break negative debt covenants.

Investopedia explains 'Off-Balance-Sheet Financing'


Contrast to loans, debt and equity, which do appear on the balance sheet. Examples of off-balance-sheet financing include joint ventures, research and development partnerships, and operating leases (rather than purchases of capital equipment).

Operating leases are one of the most common forms of off-balance-sheet financing. In these cases, the asset itself is kept on the lessor's balance sheet, and the lessee reports only the required rental expense for use of the asset. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles in the U.S. have set numerous rules for companies to follow in determining whether a lease should be capitalized (included on the balance sheet) or expensed.

This term came into popular use during the Enron bankruptcy. Many of the energy traders' problems stemmed from setting up inappropriate off-balance-sheet entities.



comments powered by Disqus
Hot Definitions
  1. Market Capitalization

    The total dollar market value of all of a company's outstanding shares. Market capitalization is calculated by multiplying a company's shares outstanding by the current market price of one share. The investment community uses this figure to determine a company's size, as opposed to sales or total asset figures.
  2. Oil Reserves

    An estimate of the amount of crude oil located in a particular economic region. Oil reserves must have the potential of being extracted under current technological constraints. For example, if oil pools are located at unattainable depths, they would not be considered part of the nation's reserves.
  3. Joint Venture - JV

    A business arrangement in which two or more parties agree to pool their resources for the purpose of accomplishing a specific task. This task can be a new project or any other business activity. In a joint venture (JV), each of the participants is responsible for profits, losses and costs associated with it.
  4. Aggregate Risk

    The exposure of a bank, financial institution, or any type of major investor to foreign exchange contracts - both spot and forward - from a single counterparty or client. Aggregate risk in forex may also be defined as the total exposure of an entity to changes or fluctuations in currency rates.
  5. Organic Growth

    The growth rate that a company can achieve by increasing output and enhancing sales. This excludes any profits or growth acquired from takeovers, acquisitions or mergers. Takeovers, acquisitions and mergers do not bring about profits generated within the company, and are therefore not considered organic.
  6. Family Limited Partnership - FLP

    A type of partnership designed to centralize family business or investment accounts. FLPs pool together a family's assets into one single family-owned business partnership that family members own shares of. FLPs are frequently used as an estate tax minimization strategy, as shares in the FLP can be transferred between generations, at lower taxation rates than would be applied to the partnership's holdings.
Trading Center