Corporate bond

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A bond from the Dutch East India Company (VOC), dating from 7 November 1623. The VOC was the first company in history to widely issue bonds and shares of stock to the general public. Vereinigte Ostindische Compagnie bond.jpg
A bond from the Dutch East India Company (VOC), dating from 7 November 1623. The VOC was the first company in history to widely issue bonds and shares of stock to the general public.

A corporate bond is a bond issued by a corporation in order to raise financing for a variety of reasons such as to ongoing operations, M&A, or to expand business. [1] The term is usually applied to longer-term debt instruments, with maturity of at least one year. Corporate debt instruments with maturity shorter than one year are referred to as commercial paper.

Bond (finance) instrument of indebtedness

In finance, a bond is an instrument of indebtedness of the bond issuer to the holders. The most common types of bonds include municipal bonds and corporate bonds.

Corporation Separate legal entity that has been incorporated through a legislative or registration process established through legislation

A corporation is an organization, usually a group of people or a company, authorized to act as a single entity and recognized as such in law. Early incorporated entities were established by charter. Most jurisdictions now allow the creation of new corporations through registration.

Mergers and acquisitions transactions in which the ownership of companies, other business organizations or their operating units are transferred or combined

Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are transactions in which the ownership of companies, other business organizations, or their operating units are transferred or consolidated with other entities. As an aspect of strategic management, M&A can allow enterprises to grow or downsize, and change the nature of their business or competitive position.



The term "corporate bond" is not strictly defined. Sometimes, the term is used to include all bonds except those issued by governments in their own currencies. In this case governments issuing in other currencies (such as the country of Mexico issuing in US dollars) will be included. The term sometimes also encompasses bonds issued by supranational organizations (such as European Bank for Reconstruction and Development). Strictly speaking, however, it only applies to those issued by corporations. The bonds of local authorities (municipal bonds) are not included.

A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, often a state.

European Bank for Reconstruction and Development

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is an international financial institution founded in 1991. As a multilateral developmental investment bank, the EBRD uses investment as a tool to build market economies. Initially focused on the countries of the former Eastern Bloc it expanded to support development in more than 30 countries from central Europe to central Asia. Similar to other multilateral development banks, the EBRD has members from all over the world, with the biggest shareholder being the United States, but only lends regionally in its countries of operations. Headquartered in London, the EBRD is owned by 69 countries and two EU institutions, 69th being India recently in July 2018. Despite its public sector shareholders, it invests in private enterprises, together with commercial partners.

Municipal bond A municipal bond is a bond issued by a local government or territory, or one of their agencies; generally to finance public projects.

A municipal bond, commonly known as a Muni Bond, is a bond issued by a local government or territory, or one of their agencies. It is generally used to finance public projects such as roads, schools, airports and seaports, and infrastructure-related repairs. The term municipal bond is commonly used in the United States, which has the largest market of such trade-able securities in the world. As of 2011, the municipal bond market was valued at $3.7 trillion. Potential issuers of municipal bonds include states, cities, counties, redevelopment agencies, special-purpose districts, school districts, public utility districts, publicly owned airports and seaports, and other governmental entities at or below the state level having more than a de minimis amount of one of the three sovereign powers: the power of taxation, the power of eminent domain or the police power.


Corporate bonds trade in decentralized, dealer-based, over-the-counter markets. In over-the-counter trading dealers act as intermediaries between buyers and sellers. Corporate bonds are sometimes listed on exchanges (these are called "listed" bonds) and ECNs. However, vast majority of trading volume happens over-the-counter.

Over-the-counter (finance) trading done directly between two parties

Over-the-counter (OTC) or off-exchange trading is done directly between two parties, without the supervision of an exchange. It is contrasted with exchange trading, which occurs via exchanges. A stock exchange has the benefit of facilitating liquidity, providing transparency, and maintaining the current market price. In an OTC trade, the price is not necessarily published for the public.

Stock exchange organization that provides services for stock brokers and traders to trade securities

A stock exchange, securities exchange or bourse, is a facility where stock brokers and traders can buy and sell securities, such as shares of stock and bonds and other financial instruments. Stock exchanges may also provide for facilities the issue and redemption of such securities and instruments and capital events including the payment of income and dividends. Securities traded on a stock exchange include stock issued by listed companies, unit trusts, derivatives, pooled investment products and bonds. Stock exchanges often function as "continuous auction" markets with buyers and sellers consummating transactions via open outcry at a central location such as the floor of the exchange or by using an electronic trading platform.

An electronic communication network (ECN) is a type of computerized forum or network that facilitates the trading of financial products outside traditional stock exchanges. An ECN is generally an electronic system that widely disseminates orders entered by market makers to third parties and permits the orders to be executed against in whole or in part. The primary products that are traded on ECNs are stocks and currencies. ECNs are generally passive computer-driven networks that internally match limit orders and charge a very small per share transaction fee.


By far the largest market for corporate bonds is in corporate bonds denominated in US Dollars. The US Dollar corporate bond market is the oldest, largest, and most developed. As the term corporate bond is not well defined, the size of the market varies by source, but it is in the $5 to $6 trillion range.

The second largest market is in Euro denominated corporate bonds. Other markets tend to be small by comparison and are usually not well developed, with low trading volumes. Many corporations from other countries issue in either US Dollars or Euros. Foreign corporations issuing bonds in the US Dollar market are called Yankees and their bonds are Yankee bonds.

High Grade vs High Yield

Corporate bonds are divided into two main categories High Grade (also called Investment Grade) and High Yield (also called Non-Investment Grade, Speculative Grade, or Junk Bonds) according to their credit rating. Bonds rated AAA, AA, A, and BBB are High Grade, while bonds rated BB and below are High Yield. This is a significant distinction as High Grade and High Yield bonds are traded by different trading desks and held by different investors. For example, many pension funds and insurance companies are prohibited from holding more than a token amount of High Yield bonds (by internal rules or government regulation). The distinction between High Grade and High Yield is also common to most corporate bond markets.

In investment, the bond credit rating represents the credit worthiness of corporate or government bonds. It is not the same as individual's credit score. The ratings are published by credit rating agencies and used by investment professionals to assess the likelihood the debt will be repaid.

Bond types

The coupon (i.e. interest payment) is usually taxable for the investor. It is tax deductible for the corporation paying it. For US Dollar corporates, the coupon is almost always semi annual, while Euro denominated corporates pay coupon quarterly.

Coupon (bond) A coupon payment on a bond is the annual interest payment that the bondholder receives from the bonds issue date until it matures

A coupon payment on a bond is the annual interest payment that the bondholder receives from the bond's issue date until it matures.

Interest fee paid by the debtor to the creditor for temporarily borrowed capital

Interest is payment from a borrower or deposit-taking financial institution to a lender or depositor of an amount above repayment of the principal sum, at a particular rate. It is distinct from a fee which the borrower may pay the lender or some third party. It is also distinct from dividend which is paid by a company to its shareholders (owners) from its profit or reserve, but not at a particular rate decided beforehand, rather on a pro rata basis as a share in the reward gained by risk taking entrepreneurs when the revenue earned exceeds the total costs.

A tax is a mandatory financial charge or some other type of levy imposed upon a taxpayer by a governmental organization in order to fund various public expenditures. A failure to pay, along with evasion of or resistance to taxation, is punishable by law. Taxes consist of direct or indirect taxes and may be paid in money or as its labour equivalent.

The coupon can be zero. In this case the bond, a zero-coupon bond, is sold at a discount (i.e. a $100 face value bond sold initially for $80). The investor benefits by paying $80, but collecting $100 at maturity. The $20 gain (ignoring time value of money) is in lieu of the regular coupon. However, this is rare for corporate bonds.

Zero-coupon bond financial product

A zero-coupon bond is a bond where the face value is repaid at the time of maturity. Note that this definition assumes a positive time value of money. It does not make periodic interest payments, or have so-called coupons, hence the term zero-coupon bond. When the bond reaches maturity, its investor receives its par value. Examples of zero-coupon bonds include U.S. Treasury bills, U.S. savings bonds, long-term zero-coupon bonds, and any type of coupon bond that has been stripped of its coupons.

Some corporate bonds have an embedded call option that allows the issuer to redeem the debt before its maturity date. These are called callable bonds. A less common feature is an embedded put option that allows investors to put the bond back to the issuer before its maturity date. These are called putable bonds. Both of these features are common to the High Yield market. High Grade bonds rarely have embedded options. A straight bond that is neither callable nor putable is called a bullet bond.

Other bonds, known as convertible bonds, allow investors to convert the bond into equity. They can also be secured or unsecured, senior or subordinated, and issued out of different parts of the company's capital structure.


High Grade corporate bonds usually trade on credit spread. Credit spread is the difference in yield between the bond and an underlying US Treasury bond (for US Dollar corporates) of similar maturity. Credit spread is the extra yield an investor earns over a risk free instrument (US Treasury) as a compensation for the extra risk.


The most common derivative on corporate bonds are called credit default swaps (CDS) which are contracts between two parties that provide a synthetic exposure with similar risks to owning the bond. The bond that the CDS is based on is called the Reference Entity and the difference between the credit spread of the bond and the spread of the CDS is called the Bond-CDS basis.

Risk analysis

Compared to government bonds, corporate bonds generally have a higher risk of default. This risk depends on the particular corporation issuing the bond, the current market conditions and governments to which the bond issuer is being compared and the rating of the company. Corporate bond holders are compensated for this risk by receiving a higher yield than government bonds. The difference in yield (called credit spread) reflects the higher probability of default, the expected loss in the event of default, and may also reflect liquidity and risk premia.

Other risks in corporate bonds

Default Risk has been discussed above but there are also other risks for which corporate bondholders expect to be compensated by credit spread. This is, for example why the Option Adjusted Spread on a Ginnie Mae MBS will usually be higher than zero to the Treasury curve.

Corporate bond indices

Corporate bond indices include the Barclays Corporate Bond Index, S&P U.S. Issued Investment Grade Corporate Bond Index (SPUSCIG), the Citigroup US Broad Investment Grade Credit Index, the JPMorgan US Liquid Index (JULI), and the Dow Jones Corporate Bond Index.

Corporate bond market transparency

Speaking in 2005, SEC Chief Economist Chester S. Spatt offered the following opinion on the transparency of corporate bond markets:

Frankly, I find it surprising that there has been so little attention to pre-trade transparency in the design of the U.S. bond markets. While some might argue that this is a consequence of the degree of fragmentation in the bond market, I would point to options markets and European bond markets-which are similarly fragmented, but much more transparent on a pre-trade basis. [3]

A combination of mathematical and regulatory initiatives are aimed at addressing pre-trade transparency in the U.S. corporate bond markets.

Foreign-currency denominated bonds

In February 2015 it was expected that Apple Inc. would issue its corporate bonds in Swiss francs, as the yields of Switzerland's government bonds went negative. [4] Taking advantage of the very low borrowing costs, the computer maker intended to sell CHF-denominated bonds for the first time. The California-based company did sell positive-yield and Swiss franc-denominated bonds on the 10th of February 2015, borrowing CHF 1.25 billion (nearly equivalent to USD 1.35 billion). It was thought that the company aimed to expand its total shareholder return more in 2015 than in 2014. [5]

Related Research Articles

In economics and finance, arbitrage is the practice of taking advantage of a price difference between two or more markets: striking a combination of matching deals that capitalize upon the imbalance, the profit being the difference between the market prices. When used by academics, an arbitrage is a transaction that involves no negative cash flow at any probabilistic or temporal state and a positive cash flow in at least one state; in simple terms, it is the possibility of a risk-free profit after transaction costs. For example, an arbitrage opportunity is present when there is the opportunity to instantaneously buy something for a low price and sell it for a higher price.

High-yield debt financial product

In finance, a high-yield bond is a bond that is rated below investment grade. These bonds have a higher risk of default or other adverse credit events, but typically pay higher yields than better quality bonds in order to make them attractive to investors.

Government bond bond issued by a national government

A government bond or sovereign bond is a bond issued by a national government, generally with a promise to pay periodic interest payments and to repay the face value on the maturity date. Government bonds are usually denominated in the country's own currency, in which case the government cannot be forced to default, although it may choose to do so. If a government is close to default on its debt the media often refer to this as a sovereign debt crisis.

In finance, a credit derivative refers to any one of "various instruments and techniques designed to separate and then transfer the credit risk" or the risk of an event of default of a corporate or sovereign borrower, transferring it to an entity other than the lender or debtholder.

Yield (finance) financial

In finance, the yield on a security is the amount of cash that returns to the owners of the security, in the form of interest or dividends received from it. Normally, it does not include the price variations, distinguishing it from the total return. Yield applies to various stated rates of return on stocks, fixed income instruments, and some other investment type insurance products.

Yield curve curve showing several interest rates across different contract lengths for a similar debt contract

In finance, the yield curve is a curve showing several yields or interest rates across different contract lengths for a similar debt contract. The curve shows the relation between the interest rate and the time to maturity, known as the "term", of the debt for a given borrower in a given currency. For example, the U.S. dollar interest rates paid on U.S. Treasury securities for various maturities are closely watched by many traders, and are commonly plotted on a graph such as the one on the right which is informally called "the yield curve". More formal mathematical descriptions of this relation are often called the term structure of interest rates.

Fixed income

Fixed income refers to any type of investment under which the borrower or issuer is obliged to make payments of a fixed amount on a fixed schedule. For example, the borrower may have to pay interest at a fixed rate once a year, and to repay the principal amount on maturity. Fixed-income securities can be contrasted with equity securities – often referred to as stocks and shares – that create no obligation to pay dividends or any other form of income.

Mortgage-backed security security

A mortgage-backed security (MBS) is a type of asset-backed security which is secured by a mortgage or collection of mortgages. The mortgages are sold to a group of individuals that securitizes, or packages, the loans together into a security that investors can buy. The mortgages of a MBS may be residential or commercial, depending on whether it is an Agency MBS or a Non-Agency MBS; in the United States they may be issued by structures set up by government-sponsored enterprises like Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, or they can be "private-label", issued by structures set up by investment banks. The structure of the MBS may be known as "pass-through", where the interest and principal payments from the borrower or homebuyer pass through it to the MBS holder, or it may be more complex, made up of a pool of other MBSs. Other types of MBS include collateralized mortgage obligations and collateralized debt obligations (CDOs).

A credit linked note (CLN) is a form of funded credit derivative. It is structured as a security with an embedded credit default swap allowing the issuer to transfer a specific credit risk to credit investors. The issuer is not obligated to repay the debt if a specified event occurs. This eliminates a third-party insurance provider.

Fixed income analysis is the valuation of fixed income or debt securities, and the analysis of their interest rate risk, credit risk, and likely price behavior in hedging portfolios. The analyst might conclude to buy, sell, hold, hedge or stay out of the particular security.

Yield spread difference in percentage rate of return of two instruments

In finance, the yield spread or credit spread is the difference between the quoted rates of return on two different investments, usually of different credit qualities but similar maturities. It is often an indication of the risk premium for one investment product over another. The phrase is a compound of yield and spread.

Bond market financial market where participants can issue new debt or buy and sell debt securities

The bond market is a financial market where participants can issue new debt, known as the primary market, or buy and sell debt securities, known as the secondary market. This is usually in the form of bonds, but it may include notes, bills, and so on.

A bond fund or debt fund is a fund that invests in bonds, or other debt securities. Bond funds can be contrasted with stock funds and money funds. Bond funds typically pay periodic dividends that include interest payments on the fund's underlying securities plus periodic realized capital appreciation. Bond funds typically pay higher dividends than CDs and money market accounts. Most bond funds pay out dividends more frequently than individual bonds.

The Z-spread, ZSPRD, zero-volatility spread or yield curve spread of a mortgage-backed security (MBS) is the parallel shift or spread over the zero-coupon Treasury yield curve required for discounting a pre-determined cash flow schedule to arrive at its present market price. The Z-spread is also widely used in the credit default swap (CDS) market as a measure of credit spread that is relatively insensitive to the particulars of specific corporate or government bonds.

The Merrill Lynch US High Yield Master II Index (H0A0) is a commonly used benchmark index for high-yield corporate bonds. It is administered by Merrill Lynch. The Master II is a measure of the broad high yield market, unlike the Merrill Lynch BB/B Index, which excludes lower-rated securities.

Credit default swap index

A credit default swap index is a credit derivative used to hedge credit risk or to take a position on a basket of credit entities. Unlike a credit default swap, which is an over the counter credit derivative, a credit default swap index is a completely standardized credit security and may therefore be more liquid and trade at a smaller bid-offer spread. This means that it can be cheaper to hedge a portfolio of credit default swaps or bonds with a CDS index than it would be to buy many single name CDS to achieve a similar effect. Credit-default swap indexes are benchmarks for protecting investors owning bonds against default, and traders use them to speculate on changes in credit quality.

Fixed-Income Relative-Value Investing (FI-RV) is a hedge fund investment strategy made popular by the failed hedge fund Long-Term Capital Management. FI-RV Investors most commonly exploit interest-rate anomalies in the large, liquid markets of North America, Europe and the Pacific Rim. The financial instruments traded include government bonds, interest rate swaps and futures contracts.

Dedicated portfolio theory, in finance, deals with the characteristics and features of a portfolio built to generate a predictable stream of future cash inflows. This is achieved by purchasing bonds and/or other fixed income securities that can and usually are held to maturity to generate this predictable stream from the coupon interest and/or the repayment of the face value of each bond when it matures. The goal is for the stream of cash inflows to exactly match the timing of a predictable stream of cash outflows due to future liabilities. For this reason it is sometimes called cash matching, or liability-driven investing. Determining the least expensive collection of bonds in the right quantities with the right maturities to match the cash flows is an analytical challenge that requires some degree of mathematical sophistication. College level textbooks typically cover the idea of “dedicated portfolios” or “dedicated bond portfolios” in their chapters devoted to the uses of fixed income securities.

A Yankee Bond is a bond issued by a foreign entity, such as a bank or company, but is issued and traded in the United States and denominated in U.S. dollars. For instance, Company ABC is headquartered in France. If Company ABC issues bonds in the United States that are denominated in U.S. dollars, the bonds are Yankee bonds. Yankee bonds are normally issued in tranches, a large debt structure financing arrangement into a lot of portion, each portions have different level of risk, interest rates and maturities, and the value of investment grouping might be extremely high, as much as $1 billion. U.S. investors buy Yankee bonds to branch out into overseas markets. Yankee bonds are same with other bonds which will require the borrower to pay a certain interest rate and principal amount according to the terms of the indenture. Yankee Bonds are administered by the Securities Act of 1933. A non-American company will sell bonds in United States to raise capital from American investors. Therefore, the issuers from non-American company have to register Yankee Bonds with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) before offering the bond for sale. Hence, U.S. investors can purchase the securities issued by the foreign entity without worrying about the price fluctuation created by changes in currency exchange rates. Yankee bond prices are mostly influenced by the variations of interest rates in U.S. and the financial condition of the issuer.


  1. O'Sullivan, Arthur; Sheffrin, Steven M. (2003). Economics: Principles in Action. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey 07458: Pearson Prentice Hall. p. 281. ISBN   0-13-063085-3.
  2. Vuong, Quan Hoang; Tran, Tri Dung (2010). "Vietnam's Corporate Bond Market, 1990-2010: Some Reflections" (PDF). The Journal of Economic Policy and Research. Institute of Public Enterprises. 6 (1): 1–47.
  3. Spatt, Chester. "Broad Themes in Market Microstructure".
  4. Apple said to hire banks for sale of swiss franc bonds S. Bakewell, Bloomberg, Business, 9 Feb 2015
  5. Apple Sells Two-Part Swiss Franc Bond B. Edwards, The Wall Street Journal, 10 Feb 2015