Embedded derivatives best 1 to read

Embedded derivatives

Embedded derivatives are part of a financial instrument that also includes a non-derivative host contract. The embedded derivative requires that some portion of the contract’s cash flows be modified in relation to changes in a variable, such as an interest rate, commodity price, credit rating, or foreign exchange rate. If a derivative is contractually transferable separately from the contract, then it is not an embedded derivative.

Under IFRS 9’s requirements for the classification and measurement of financial instruments, embedded derivatives in financial assets are not accounted for separately. If there is an embedded derivative in a financial asset that would have been separated under IAS 39, the whole instrument will (in most cases) be carried at fair value through P&L.

As a result, embedded derivatives in financial assets will no longer be eligible as hedging instruments on their own. As an alternative, entities could designate the instrument in its entirety (or a proportion of it) at fair value through P&L as a hedging instrument, as noted above. However, entities should note that designation at fair value through P&L is allowed only at inception; therefore, they can do this only for new financial instruments.

For financial liabilities, on the other hand, most of the classification and measurement requirements in IAS 39 have been transferred into IFRS 9, including the paragraphs for separating embedded derivatives that are not closely related to the host instrument. This means that derivatives embedded in financial liabilities continue to be separated in some circumstances. If an embedded derivative is separated from the host instrument and accounted for separately, it continues to be eligible as a hedging instrument.

From IAS 39 to IFRS 9 – reduced complexity

An embedded derivative is a component of a hybrid contract that also includes a non-derivative host, with the effect that some of the cash flows of the combined instrument vary in a way similar to a stand-alone derivative.

The embedded derivative concept that exists in IAS 39 has been included in IFRS 9 to apply only to hosts that are not financial assets within the scope of the Standard, i.e. financial liabilities and host contacts not in the scope of IFRS 9, such as leases, purchase contracts, service contracts, etc.

Consequently, embedded derivatives that, under IAS 39, would have been separately accounted for at FVTPL, because they were not closely related to a host financial asset will no longer be separated. Instead, the contractual cash flows of the financial asset are assessed in their entirety, and the asset as a whole is measured at FVTPL if the contractual cash flow characteristics test is not passed.

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The embedded derivative guidance that exists in IAS 39 is included in IFRS 9 to help identify when an embedded derivative is closely related to a financial liability host contract or a host contract not within the scope of IFRS 9 (e.g. lease contracts, insurance contracts, contracts for the purchase or sale of non-financial items).

The IAS 39 definition and guidance on separation of embedded derivatives and accounting for hybrid instruments is carried forward to IFRS 9 for instruments where the host contract is not a financial asset within the scope of IFRS 9.

If the host contract is a financial asset within the scope of IFRS 9, the embedded derivative is not separated from the host. Rather, the hybrid instrument is assessed for classification as a whole using the classification requirements for financial assets discussed here (valuation at amortised costs, fair value through other comprehensive income or fair value through profit or loss).


XYZ Ltd. issues bonds in the market. However, the payment of annual interest and principal component of the bond is indexed with the price of Gold. In such a scenario the payment of annual interest will increase or decrease in direct correlation with the price of gold in the market.

Analysing the case leads to the following determinations:

The bond issued by XYZ ltd. is the debt instrument (a Non-derivative instrument), while the interest payments are linked with another instrument which in this case is gold (Derivative component). This derivative component is known as embedded derivative.

The non-derivative component here is also referred as host contract and the combined contract is hybrid in nature.

Embedded derivatives


Under IAS 39, the fair value option for financial assets can also be applied when the asset is part of a group of assets or assets and liabilities that is managed on a fair value basis or when it has an embedded derivative that is not closely related.

Under IFRS 9 assets managed on a fair value basis are by default accounted for at FVTPL because they fail the business model test. Hybrid debt instruments that are financial assets with non-closely related embedded derivatives under IAS 39 would generally fail to meet the contractual cash flow characteristic test, and thus would also be accounted for at FVTPL under IFRS 9.

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Embedded derivatives Equity kicker

Embedded derivatives Equity kicker – A more specific type of embedded derivative that is often found in practice relates to a type of funding provided by venture capital entities is the equity kicker. It is many times part of a sales of a part of a business of a listed company, financed by the venture capital entity. The intention is to prepare the separated business for an IPO within 3 – 5 years after this separation. Embedded derivatives Equity kicker

Example Mezzanine financing Equity kicker

A venture capitalist provides a subordinated loan, that in addition to interest and repayment of principal, contains terms that entitle the venture capitalist to receive shares of the borrower (separated business) free of charge or at a very low price (an ‘Equity kicker’) if the borrower undergoes an IPO. As a result of this feature, the interest on the subordinated loan is lower than it would otherwise be. Embedded derivatives Equity kicker

The ‘equity kicker’ meets the definition of a derivative even though the right to receive shares is contingent upon the future listing of the borrower. IFRS9 BA.1 states that a derivative could require a payment as a result of some future event that is unrelated to a notional amount.

An ‘equity kicker’ feature is similar to such a derivative except that it does not give a right to a fixed payment, but an option right if the future event occurs.

As the economic characteristic and risks of an equity return are not closely related to the economic characteristic and risks of a host debt instrument, the embedded derivative would be accounted for separately by the venture capitalist. [IFRS 9IG C.4] Embedded derivatives Equity kicker

Mezzanine financing

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Mezzanine financing bridges the gap between debt and equity financing and is one of the highest-risk forms of debt. It is subordinate to pure equity but senior to pure debt.

However, this means that it also offers some of the highest returns when compared to other debt types, as it often receives rates between 12% and 20% per year. Embedded derivatives Equity kicker

Companies commonly seek mezzanine financing to support specific growth projects or acquisitions. The benefits for a company in obtaining mezzanine financing include the fact that the providers of mezzanine capital are often long-term investors in the company.

This makes it easier to obtain other types of financing since traditional creditors generally view a company with long-term investors in a more favorable light and are therefore more likely to extend credit and favorable terms to that company.

A number of characteristics are common in the structuring of mezzanine loans, such as:
  • In relation to the priority with which they are paid, these loans are subordinate to senior debt but senior to common equity.
  • Differing from standard bank loans, mezzanine loans demand a higher yield than senior debt and are often unsecured.
  • No principal amortization exists. Embedded derivatives Equity kicker
  • Part of the return on a mezzanine loan is fixed, which makes this type of security less dilutive than common equity. Embedded derivatives Equity kicker
  • Subordinated debt is made up of a current interest coupon, payment in kind and warrants. Embedded derivatives Equity kicker
  • Preferred equity is junior to subordinated debt, causing it to be viewed as equity coming from more senior members in the structure of the capital financing.

Also read: IFRS Community – Embedded derivatives

Embedded derivatives

Embedded derivatives

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