What Are Funding Operations?
The term funding operations refers to the conversion of short-term debt into long-term debt. This process is often used by corporations along with governments to convert short-term bonds to long-term bond holdings.
Funding operations are simply one way to create a more stable repayment forecast by moving debts with floating interest rates to more predictable, fixed-interest vehicles.
- Funding operations involve the replacement of short-term debt with longer-term debt, often used by corporations and governments to create a more stable repayment forecast.
- Short-term debt on a balance sheet is often considered unfunded, while long-term debt is labeled as funded.
- Investors use funded debt to calculate a company's capitalization ratio and its net working capital to determine its financial health.
Understanding Funding Operations
Funding operations provide governments and business entities an opportunity to consolidate short-term debt obligations into long-term debt instruments, such as bonds, that carry a fixed rate. Most investors consider debt instruments with repayment dates of a year or less to be short-term in nature, while long-term debt typically does not require full repayment for a year or more.
Although the interest rate on short-term debt typically runs lower than the interest rate on long-term debt, the variability of interest rates issued over the short term presents downside risk for companies or governments that need debt funding over the longer term.
When governments or businesses undertake funding operations, they look for a long-term debt vehicle that can provide appropriate funding for their expected operational expenses over the long term, while also replacing short-term debt currently on the balance sheet. Holding short-term obligations provides an opportunity to purchase long-term debt more strategically and less frequently, as the chances of large interest rate movements remain relatively low over the shorter term.
Companies and governments can use funding operations to create a more stable repayment forecast by moving debts with floating interest rates to fixed-interest vehicles.
Short- vs. Long-Term Debt
While companies and governments are able to obtain short-term debt on fixed-rate or variable-rate terms, any funds that aren't repaid within a year become subject to rate changes by definition, as the companies or governments need to refinance the debt in some way when it comes due.
The interest rate on variable-rate debt vehicles resets periodically at an interval set by the debt issuer. Interest rates on any short-term debt with a fixed rate effectively resets as companies or governments refinance into new instruments at prevailing rates.
Issuers offer higher interest rates on long-term debt to match the higher risk of default over a longer maturity period. At the same time, the fixed nature of the rates provides the entity taking the loan with greater stability, since interest accrues more predictably over the course of repayment. Fixed rates also provide protection in a rising interest rate environment, as short-term interest rates rise and floating rates reset to higher levels.
Companies consider short-term debt on their balance sheet to be unfunded. Short-term debt may include both bank loans or corporate debt issuances with maturity dates that are less than one year. Companies consider long-term debt to be funded debt for balance sheet purposes.
Investors use funded debt to calculate two important ratios that they use to determine the financial health of a company. The capitalization ratio looks at a company’s long-term debt as a proportion of its total capitalization. A company’s net working capital ratio looks at long-term debt as a proportion of the company’s existing capital. In most cases, investors prefer to see net working capital ratios under 1:1.