What Are Piggyback Warrants?

Piggyback warrants are typically acquired following the exercising of another warrant. Piggyback warrants are a type of sweetener used to entice investors to invest in the company providing the primary warrant and piggyback warrant. Piggyback warrants also provide potential future capital to the issuing company if exercised.

Key Takeaways

  • Piggyback warrants are a sweetener and come into effect when a primary warrant is exercised.
  • Piggyback warrants have a higher exercise price than the primary warrant and may have the same or a further out expiry date.
  • Piggyback warrants are used to entice investment and generate potential cash for the company if their stock price rises.

Understanding Piggyback Warrants

Piggyback warrants come into effect when another warrant is exercised. This acts as a sweetener to an investor because, once they exercise the original warrant, the piggyback warrants give them the opportunity to acquire even more shares at a fixed price if the company continues to do well and the share price rises.

The original or primary warrant is what an investor purchases or receives from the issuing company. The piggyback warrant is attached to the primary warrant. It comes into play if the primary warrant is exercised. The piggyback warrant will typically have a different (usually higher) exercise price than the primary warrant. Therefore, the piggyback warrant may become profitable if the underlying share price continues to rise following the exercising of the primary warrant. The piggyback warrant may have a further expiry date than the primary warrant, or it might be the same.

Warrant Basics

A warrant is a type of security issued by a company that gives the holder the right, but not the obligation, to buy shares from the company at a specified price within a specified time period.

Warrants can be bought or sold, with their value fluctuating as the underlying share price fluctuates. Once the underlying share price moves above the exercise price of the warrant, holders may be enticed to exercise the warrant and buy the shares at the exercise price. For example, if a company issues $9 warrants and a year later their stock is trading at $10, investors can exercise the warrant to buy stock at $9 even though the stock is currently trading at $10.

This is possible because the company issues new shares when a warrant is exercised. Therefore, warrants are dilutive in nature, increasing the number of shares outstanding. The company uses the funds it receives from people exercising the warrants to fund their business.

A piggyback warrant works in the same way. Yet this type of warrant is attached to a primary warrant and will come into effect after the primary warrant is exercised.

Example of a Piggyback Warrant

Assume a company has attached a piggyback warrant to a $9 primary warrant. The piggyback warrant typically has a higher exercise price than the original warrant, so assume the piggyback warrant is exercisable at $12. The original warrant and the piggyback warrants may have the same expiry date, or the piggyback warrants may expire at a later date.

If the holder exercises their warrant at $9, because the underlying stock price is above $9, then the $12 piggyback warrants come into existence. The holder now has the option to sell those warrants to another investor, or they can hold them and hope the stock price moves above $12. If the stock price moves above $12, it is worthwhile to exercise the piggyback warrant and buy the stock at $12.

If the original warrant is not exercised before it expires, then there is no piggyback warrant. If the price of the underlying stock doesn't reach $12 before the piggyback warrant expires, then the warrant becomes worthless and ceases to exist. Prior to expiry or being exercised, warrants can be bought or sold, similar to an option contract.