Consistent valuation of project finance and LBO's using the flow-to-equity method

Cooper, I and Nyborg, K G (2018) Consistent valuation of project finance and LBO's using the flow-to-equity method. European Financial Management, 24 (1). pp. 34-52. ISSN 1468-036X

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The flows-to-equity method is often used to value highly leveraged projects, or transactions, where debt typically amortises over time according to a fixed schedule. This requires a formula that links the changing leverage over time with a time-varying equity discount rate. We show that the extant formulas in the literature and in textbooks yield incorrect discount rates and valuations because they are inconsistent with fixed debt plans. They result in values that are at odds with the Miller and Modigliani result that levered value equals unlevered value plus financing side effects (adjusted present value). The error from using the wrong formula can be large at the currently low levels of interest rates. We derive an equity discount rate formula that captures the effects of a fixed debt plan, potentially expensive debt, and costs of financial distress that, when applied in the flows-to-equity method, yield values that are consistent with adjusted present value. In short, our formula allows for the correct implementation of the flows-to-equity method under fixed debt plans. In the formula, the cost of debt is the promised yield rather than the expected rate of return of debt.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: 'Consistent valuation of project finance and LBO's using the flow-to-equity method', European Financial Management (2018) 24(1):34-52, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.
Subjects: E > Equity capital
C > Cash flow
Subject Areas: Finance
DOI: 10.1111/eufm.12136
Date Deposited: 15 Mar 2017 08:49
Last Modified: 23 Jan 2018 11:50

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