It�s all corporate finance.
My unbiased view of the world
Every decision made in a business has financial implications, and any decision that involves the use of money is a corporate financial decision. Defined broadly, everything that a business does fits under the rubric of corporate finance. It is, in fact, unfortunate that we even call the subject corporate finance, because it suggests to many observers a focus on how large corporations make financial decisions and seems to exclude small and private businesses from its purview. A more appropriate title for this discipline would be Business Finance, because the basic principles remain the same, whether one looks at large, publicly traded firms or small, privately run businesses. All businesses have to invest their resources wisely, find the right kind and mix of financing to fund these investments, and return cash to the owners if there are not enough good investments. In this introduction, we will lay the foundation for this discussion by listing the three fundamental principles that underlie corporate finance—the investment, financing, and dividend principles—and the objective of firm value maximization that is at the heart of corporate financial theory. The Firm: Structural Set-Up
In corporate finance, we will use firm generically to refer to any business, large or small, manufacturing or service, private or public. Thus, a corner grocery store and Microsoft are both firms. The firm�s investments are generically termed assets. Although assets are often categorized by accountants into fixed assets, which are long-lived, and current assets, which are short-term, we prefer a different categorization. The assets that the firm has already invested in are called assets in place, whereas those assets that the firm is expected to invest in the future are called growth assets. Though it may seem strange that a firm can get value from investments it has not made yet, high-growth firms get the bulk of their value from these yet-to-be-made investments. To finance these assets, the firm can raise money from two sources. It can raise funds from investors or financial institutions by promising investors a fixed claim (interest payments) on the cash flows generated by the assets, with a limited or no role in the day-to-day running of the business. We categorize this type of financing to be debt. Alternatively, it can offer a residual claim on the cash flows (i.e., investors can get what is left over after the interest payments have been made) and a much greater role in the operation of the business. We call this equity. Note that these definitions are general enough to cover both private firms, where debt may take the form of bank loans and equity is the owner�s own money, as well as publicly traded companies, where the firm may issue bonds (to raise debt) and common stock (to raise equity). Thus, at this stage, we can lay out the financial balance sheet of a firm as follows:
Note the contrast between this balance sheet and a conventional accounting balance sheet.
An accounting balance sheet is primarily a listing of assets in place, though there are some circumstances where growth assets may find their place in it; in an acquisition, what gets recorded as goodwill is a conglomeration of growth assets in the target firm, synergies and overpayment. First Principles
Every discipline has first principles that govern and guide everything that gets done within it. All of corporate finance is built on three principles, which we will call, rather unimaginatively, the investment principle, the financing principle, and the dividend principle. The investment principle determines where businesses invest their resources, the financing principle governs the mix of funding used to fund these investments, and the dividend principle answers the question of how much earnings should be reinvested...