DEFINITION of 'Senior Issue'

An issue of bonds, preferred stock or other securities that represents the first priority lien on the issuer's assets or earnings. Senior issues have a higher priority claim on a firm's dividends, interest payments, or in case of a bankruptcy, the value salvaged from a liquidation.

BREAKING DOWN 'Senior Issue'

Priority levels may change in the subordinated debt structure. An issue that is considered senior may lose that title in certain situations. For example, if a firm claims bankruptcy and begins acting as a debtor in possession (DIP), it may attempt to raise more funds to keep operations going. A new lender may require its lien to be given top priority, forcing the current senior issue of bonds down the claims ladder.

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