DEFINITION of 'Front Fee'

The option premium paid by an investor upon the initial purchase of a compound option. A compound option is one where the underlying asset is also an option (i.e. an option on an option). The front fee gives the investor the right - but not the obligation - to exercise the compound option. If exercised, another fee known as the "back fee" is payable for the underlying option.

BREAKING DOWN 'Front Fee'

Compound options are used in situations where uncertainty exists regarding the requirement for risk mitigation. For example, a company may submit a bid for an overseas project. If successful, the project would generate significant revenue in a foreign currency, which may need to be hedged against exchange rate risk. A compound option would be useful in this case, because the front fee payable would be lower than the premium payable on a foreign currency option contract (which is a contingent liability in any case).

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