Special Purpose Vehicle/Entity - SPV/SPE

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What is a 'Special Purpose Vehicle/Entity - SPV/SPE'

A special purpose vehicle/entity (SPV/SPE) is also referred to as a "bankruptcy-remote entity" whose operations are limited to the acquisition and financing of specific assets. The SPV is usually a subsidiary company with an asset/liability structure and legal status that makes its obligations secure even if the parent company goes bankrupt.

2. A subsidiary corporation designed to serve as a counterparty for swaps and other credit sensitive derivative instruments. Also called a "derivatives product company."

BREAKING DOWN 'Special Purpose Vehicle/Entity - SPV/SPE'

Thanks to Enron, SPVs/SPEs are household words. These entities aren't all bad though. They were originally (and still are) used to isolate financial risk.

A corporation can use such a vehicle to finance a large project without putting the entire firm at risk. Problem is, due to accounting loopholes, these vehicles became a way for CFOs to hide debt. Essentially, it looks like the company doesn't have a liability when they really do. As we saw with the Enron bankruptcy, if things go wrong, the results can be devastating.

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