What Is an Accommodation Endorsement?

An accommodation endorsement is an agreement for one business to back the credit liability of another. Generally, this type of agreement adds strength to the creditworthiness of the financially weaker of the two entities. For example, a parent company often provides accommodation endorsements to a subsidiary. This lets the subsidiary enjoy the parent company's credit rating, in some instances, and often, more favorable loan terms.

Key Takeaways

  • An accommodation endorsement is an agreement whereby one business backs the credit liability of another business.
  • Accommodation endorsements are usually provided to add strength to the creditworthiness of the financially weaker entity, allowing it to enjoy the stronger entity's credit rating.
  • Small businesses typically benefit from accommodation endorsements, primarily in their ability to receive financing, due to the strength of the endorser's strong financial status.
  • An accommodation endorser is often the parent company of a subsidiary but does not necessarily have to be directly related to the company it is endorsing.
  • Accommodation endorsers should always be aware of the financial amount they are backing as they may be on the hook for the entire financial liability.

Understanding an Accommodation Endorsement

An accommodation endorsement is the corporate equivalent of a co-signing loan agreement. Let's say a 19-year-old college student with only a part-time job and no credit history needs a used car for use during a summer internship. This student's parent may need to cosign the auto loan, indicating that they are responsible for the debt if the student defaults.

Similarly, an accommodation endorsement happens when a subsidiary company applies for a loan, but it's not entirely foolproof that this entity can pay, due to its below-par balance sheet. In this case, the parent company issues an accommodation paper. This provides a promise to the bank that the parent company, with far more assets, will pick up the loan if the original borrower defaults.

Accommodation endorsements are exceptionally helpful to small companies. For the large parent companies, however, accommodation endorsements don't always work out. The bank, or holder of the banknote, if the loan is resold, can then go after the parent company if they are not getting paid. This is meaningful if the smaller entity borrowed substantially.

From a practical perspective, all an accommodating endorser needs to do is sign on the dotted line, indicating that this group is the financial backstop for the smaller organization or subsidiary. Similar to the way the U.S. government fully backs U.S. Treasuries, the parent company's reputation is now on the line for the loan.

Special Considerations

Note that an accommodation endorser isn't always a parent company. However, it almost always has a close relationship with the borrower. Therefore, a larger company may provide an accommodating endorsement for one of its critical suppliers. A large soda company might want to be the accommodation endorser for one of its bottlers, for example.

Accommodation endorsements also happen among the keiretsu structure of companies in Japan, where a group of enterprises take equity stakes in one another and sometimes collaborate and share projects. Again, it's the strongest of these companies providing the accommodation endorsement for the others.

Another example is a national bank that endorses the acceptances of one of its regional subsidiaries. If the regional branch runs into depository issues the national bank parent can step in to supply necessary funds.

In a partnership, if one partner makes accommodation endorsements that are not under the business, the business or the remaining partners are not held accountable.

The accommodation endorser should always be aware of the backing that they are providing to ensure that they will be able to cover any liabilities in case the company they are backing fails to meet its financial obligations. For example, if a subsidiary takes out a $100 million loan and withdraws the entire amount but is unable to pay any of it back, the accommodation endorser will be on the hook for the entire $100 million.

If the endorser is not in the financial position to pay that amount back at the given time, as perhaps they had a bad fiscal quarter or fiscal year, or are paying down their own debt, this could adversely impact their financial standing and credit rating.