A Valuation Model for Indeterminate Convertibles
Many issues of convertible debentures in India in recent years provide for a mandatory conversion of the debentures into an unspecified number of shares at an unspecified time; the conversion ratio (i.e., the number of shares per debenture) is to be determined by the Controller of Capital Issues (CCI). There are serious problems in arriving at a rational value for these "indeterminate convertibles". Even if the investor can make some estimate of the likely conversion terms, there is no valuation model available to arrive at a price. This paper applies the general theory of derivative securities (Cox, Ingersoll and Ross, 1985) to obtain a valuation model for these instruments. The model shows that the naive valuation model which sets the value of the debenture equal to the current stock price times the expected conversion ratio is likely to be a significant overestimate of the price. It also shows that changes in the stock price lead to less than proportionate changes in the debenture price unlike in the case of pre-specified conversion terms. Similarly, the CAPM beta of the debenture would be significantly lower than that of the share. While the model does not obviate the need for obtaining estimates of unobservable parameters related to the market expectations about the likely conversion ratio, the qualitative insights given by the model are quite useful. The model is successful in explaining some of the empirical patterns and anomalies that have been observed in ongoing empirical research into the market prices of these debentures.
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