Convertible notes – Are you accounting for these correctly? (Part 9)

In the current economic climate, we continue to see different types of convertible note arrangements, typically entered into by companies needing to offer attractive returns in order to obtain funds from lenders and investors.

Over the past few months in Accounting News we have been looking at some practical aspects regarding accounting for convertible notes, including:

  • An overview of the requirements (March 2018)
  • A detailed example of a convertible note classified as a compound financial instrument (April 2018)
  • A detailed example of a convertible note with an embedded derivative liability (May 2018)
  • Common scenarios encountered in practice where conversion features either meet or fail equity classification (July 2018)
  • A detailed example of a convertible note converting into a variable number of shares based on the issuer’s share price at conversion date (August 2018)
  • A detailed example of a convertible note issued in a currency other than the issuer’s functional currency (September 2018)
  • A detailed example of a convertible note with a feature that allows the issuer to repay (‘call’) the note early (October 2018)
  • A detailed example of a convertible note with an early repurchase option (November 2018).

As noted in these previous articles, in order for a conversion feature to be classified as ‘equity’, the ‘fixed for fixed’ test in IAS 32 Financial Instruments: Presentation must be met, i.e. at initial recognition, the conversion feature gives the holder of the convertible note the right to convert into a fixed number of equity securities of the issuer.

This month we look at a detailed example of a mandatorily convertible note.


In some circumstances, convertible notes mandatorily convert after a fixed period of time, but pay a contractual coupon up to the point of conversion. Provided that the conversion feature results in the conversion of a fixed functional currency amount of the notes into a fixed number shares, the conversion feature of the mandatorily convertible component is classified as equity.

The liability component consists only of the cash flows associated with the contractually required coupon payments. This treats the note effectively as prepaid equity and results in significantly more equity upon initial recognition than would be the case with a conventional convertible note with a conversion option. Interest expense recognised at the effective interest rate would also be significantly lower than a conventional convertible note.

Example: Mandatorily convertible note

ABC Limited issues a convertible note with a face value of $1,000,000.

The note matures three years from its date of issue and pays a 10% annual coupon.

On maturity, the note mandatorily converts into 1,000,000 ordinary shares of ABC Limited.

The market interest rate for a note without a conversion feature would have been 12% at the date of issue.

Analysis – Entire note

Analysis - Entire note

Using the above flowchart for the entire instrument, it is assessed as being a compound financial instrument because:

  • ABC Limited (the issuer) has a contractual obligation to pay cash that it cannot avoid, i.e. the annual cash coupon
  • The exceptions in paragraphs IAS 32.16A-D do not apply, and
  • The instrument has characteristics that are similar to equity, i.e. it contains an option to be converted into equity instruments.

Therefore, only the cash coupon will be classified as a financial liability. 

Analysis – Conversion feature

The mandatory conversion feature is then assessed on a stand-alone basis.  Starting with the box at the top left hand side of the diagram:

  • There is no contractual obligation to pay cash that ABC Limited cannot avoid.  The equity conversion feature can only be settled through the issue of equity shares in ABC Limited, otherwise it will simply expire unexercised.
  • There is no obligation to issue a variable number of shares.  The note mandatorily converts into 1,000,000 shares of ABC Limited on maturity.

Consequently, the conversion feature is classified as an equity component.

The fair value of the liability component is calculated as follows:

Year Cash flow (interest)
Discount factor at 12% Fair value
1 100,000 1/1.12 89,286
2 100,000 1/1.12^2 79,719
3 100,000 1/1.12^3 71,178
    Liability component 240,183

The residual equity component is calculated in the table below:

Transaction price 1,000,000
Less: liability component    (240,183)
Equity component 759,817
The accounting for a mandatorily convertible note therefore results in significantly more equity than a conventional convertible note with a convertible option and effectively treats the note as prepaid equity.  Interest expense recognised at the effective interest rate is significantly lower than a conventional convertible note because it is only calculated based on a substantially lower liability balance.

Journal entries

The journal entry recognised by ABC Limited on initial recognition of the mandatorily convertible note is:

Cash 1,000,000  
Liability   240,813
Equity   759,817
Entry on initial recognition

The liability component will then amortise over the three-year life of the note, from inception until maturity, as follows:

Year Beginning balance
Interest expense at 12%
Cash coupon
Ending balance
1 240,183 28,822 (100,000) 169,005
2 169,005 20,281 (100,000) 89,286
3 89,286 10,714 (100,000) NIL

The journal entries recognised in Years 1, 2 and 3 are as follows:

Interest expense 28,822  
Liability  71,178  
Cash   100,000
Year 1 entry
Interest expense 20,281  
Liability 79,719  
Cash   100,000
Year 2 entry
Interest expense 10,714  
Liability 89,286  
Cash   100,000


Subscribe to Accounting News


This publication has been carefully prepared, but is general commentary only. This publication is not legal or financial advice and should not be relied upon as such. The information in this publication is subject to change at any time and therefore we give no assurance or warranty that the information is current when read. The publication cannot be relied upon to cover any specific situation and you should not act, or refrain from acting, upon the information contained therein without obtaining specific professional advice. Please contact the BDO member firms in Australia to discuss these matters in the context of your particular circumstances.

BDO Australia Ltd and each BDO member firm in Australia, their partners and/or directors, employees and agents do not give any warranty as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of information contained in this article nor do they accept or assume any liability or duty of care for any loss arising from any action taken or not taken by anyone in reliance on the information in this publication or for any decision based on it, except in so far as any liability under statute cannot be excluded. Read full Disclaimer.