Debt financing is a means of raising funds to generate working capital that is used to pay for projects or endeavors that the issuer of the debt wishes to undertake. The issuer may choose to issue bonds, promissory notes or other debt instruments as a means of financing the debt associated with the project. In return for purchasing the notes or bonds, the investor is provided with some type of return above and beyond the original amount of purchase.
Debt financing is very different from equity financing. With equity financing, revenue is generated by issuing shares of stock at a public offering. The shares remain active from the point of issue and will continue to generate returns for investors as long as the shares are held. By contrast, debt financing involves the use of debt instruments that are anticipated to be repaid in full within a given time frame.
With debt financing, the investor anticipates earning a return in the form of interest for a specified period of time. At the end of the life of a bond or note, the investor receives the full face value of the bond, including any interest that may have accrued. In some cases, bonds or notes may be structured to allow for periodic interest payments to investors throughout the life of the debt instrument.
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For the issuer of the bonds or notes, debt financing is a great way to raise needed capital in a short period of time. Since it does not involve the issuing of shares of stock, there is a clear start and end date in mind for the debt. It is possible to project the amount of interest that will be repaid during the life of the bond and thus have a good idea of how to meet those obligations without causing undue hardship. Selling bonds is a common way of funding special projects, and is utilized by municipalities as well as many corporations.
Investors also benefit from debt financing. Since the bonds and notes are often set up with either a fixed rate of interest or a variable rate with a guarantee of a minimum interest rate, it is possible to project the return on the investment over the life of the bond. There is relatively little risk with this type of debt financing, so the investor does not have to be concerned about losing money on the deal. While the return may be somewhat modest, it is reliable. The low risk factor makes entering into a debt financing strategy very attractive for conservative investors.