Embedded derivatives: equity kicker
In some instances, venture capital entities providing subordinated loans agree that if and when the borrower lists its shares on a stock exchange, the venture capital entity is entitled to receive shares of the borrowing entity free of charge or at a very low price (an ‘equity kicker’) in addition to the contractual payments. As a result of the equity kicker feature, the interest on the subordinated loan is lower than it would otherwise be. Assuming that the subordinated loan is not measured at fair value with changes in fair value recognised in profit or loss (paragraph 4.3.3(c) of IFRS 9), does the equity kicker feature meet the definition of an embedded derivative even though it is contingent upon the future listing of the borrower?
Yes. The economic characteristics and risks of an equity return are not closely related to the economic characteristics and risks of a host debt instrument (paragraph 4.3.3(a) of IFRS 9). The equity kicker meets the definition of a derivative because it has a value that changes in response to the change in the price of the shares of the borrower, it requires no initial net investment or an initial net investment that is smaller than would be required for other types of contracts that would be expected to have a similar response to changes in market factors, and it is settled at a future date (paragraph 4.3.3(b) and Appendix A of IFRS 9). The equity kicker feature meets the definition of a derivative even though the right to receive shares is contingent upon the future listing of the borrower. Paragraph BA.1 of IFRS 9 states that a derivative could require a payment as a result of some future event that is unrelated to a notional amount. An equity kicker feature is similar to such a derivative except that it does not give a right to a fixed payment, but an option right, if the future event occurs.