Contingency Approaches to Corporate Finance: A World Scientific Reference

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World Scientific Pub Co Inc
Release Date:
March 30, 2019
Black and Scholes (1973) and Merton (1974) (hereafter referred to as BSM) introduced the contingent claim approach (CCA) to the valuation of corporate debt and equity. The BSM modeling framework is also named the "structural" approach to risky debt valuation.

The CCA approach considers all stakeholders of the corporation as holding contingent claims on the assets of the corporation. Each claim holder has different priorities, maturities and conditions for payouts. It is based on the principle that all the assets belong to all the liability holders.

In the structural approach the arrival of the default event relies on economic arguments for why firms default as it is explicitly related to the dynamics of the economic value of the firm. A standard structural model of default timing assumes that a corporation defaults when its assets drop to a sufficiently low level relative to its liabilities.

The BSM modeling framework gives the basic fundamental version of the structural model where default is assumed to occur when the net asset value of the firm at the maturity of the pure-discount debt becomes negative, i.e., market value of the assets of the firm falls below the market value of the firm's liabilities. In a regime of limited liability, the shareholders of the firm have the option to default on the firm's debt. Equity can be viewed as a European call option on the firm's assets with a strike price equal to the face value of the firm's debt. Actually, CCA can be used to value all the components of the firm's liabilities. Option pricing models are used to value stocks, bonds, and many other types of corporate claims.

Different versions of the model correspond to different assumptions about the conditions when a firm defaults. Merton (1974) assumes that the firm only defaults at the maturity date of the firm's outstanding debt when the net asset value of the firm, in market value terms, is negative. Others introduce other conditions for default. Also, different authors introduce more complicated capital structure with different kinds of bonds (e.g. senior and junior), warrants, corporate taxes, ESOP, and more.

Readership: Graduate students, college and university teachers, researchers and practitioners who are interested to understand the approaches and methods required to sustain the viability of a corporate enterprise.