FNCE 201 Corporate Finance
Prof. Fu Fangjian
Due: the class in 4th week (10-14 Sep)
UST Inc. is considering a debt-for-equity recapitalization. In the deal, UST will issue $1 billion debt to buy back stocks. In class we argue that an important determinant of a firm’s debt policy is the tradeoff between the tax benefits of debt and the costs of financial distress and bankruptcy. Mature firms generating positive and stable operating income are more likely to take advantage of the debt tax shields and less likely to verge on bankruptcy, and thus may consider using more debt in their capital structure. Do you think UST Inc. would benefit from this transaction? Between 1988 to 1998, UST has enjoyed excellent financial performance. The firm has posted continuous increase in sales, earnings and cash over the entire period with a 10 year compound growth rates of 9%, 11% and 12% respectively. Most noticeably, the firm has also maintained margins with average gross profit, EBITDA, EBIT and nets margins of 77%, 53%, 50% and 31% respectively. Judging from the financial performance of UST (stable positive earnings), we can firmly conclude that the UST is an assets-in-place firm. The purpose of the debt-for-equity recapitalization is for UST to enhance their overall firm value. 1. First, UST will benefit from the interest tax shield.
a. Tax Shield = Corporate Tax Rate * Debt = 0.38 * 1 billion = $0.38 billion In addition, the recapitalization will decrease the number of outstanding shares and as such generate higher returns for shareholders. Moreover, servicing this debt should not add any extra risk of financial distress due to the high positive cash flow generative nature of UST’s business. 2. Second, this debt will help prevent managers from investing in projects that earn returns below the firms cost of capital where UST have historically performed poorly. USTs investment in non-core operations of its wine business and cigars business generated operating...
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