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Indian Convertible Bonds with Unspecified Terms: An Empirical Study

  • Political Science


Indian convertible bonds have two peculiar features that make them possibly unique in the world: a) the bonds are compulsorily converted into equity without any option, and b) the conversion terms are not specified at the time of issue but are left to be determined subsequently by the Controller of Capital Issues (CCI) who is the government functionary regulating capital issues in India. A naive model would say that the market simply forms an estimate of the likely conversion terms and then values the bond as if these terms were prespecified. This paper examines the market prices of one of the largest issues of Indian convertible bonds with unspecified terms. The empirical investigation convincingly rejects the naive model and demonstrates that changes in the markets expectation of the conversion terms are a significant factor affecting the pricing relationship. These changes are significantly correlated with the stock price itself. We do not, however, find any evidence that the market expects the CCI to adjust the conversion terms on the basis of the actual market price to protect the bondholder. But, there is strong evidence that changes in expected conversion terms affect the share price through the dilution effect. Since the unspecified terms have only added to the uncertainty of the bondholders without giving them any perceived benefits we recommend that this system should be abolished. In a companion paper, Barua and Varma (1991) present a theoretical valuation model for the Indian convertible bonds with unspecified terms. The empirical results in this paper confirm the predictions of that model.

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