off-balance-sheet financing

Also found in: Acronyms.

Off-balance-sheet financing

Financing that is not shown as a liability on a company's balance sheet.

Off-Balance-Sheet Financing

A type of company financing that does not appear as a liability on the company's balance sheet. A company may engage in off-balance-sheet financing if it wishes to keep its debt-equity ratio low and thereby appear as if it is carrying little debt. This, in turn, makes the company look more creditworthy than it would otherwise. A common form of off-balance-sheet financing is an operating lease, in which a company rents, rather than buys, a capital asset. In an operating lease, the company must record only the rental payments, and not the whole cost of the asset. While off-balance-sheet financing is permissible, it can become unsustainable and can hide a company's true financial state. The term came into common parlance when Enron collapsed in the wake of excessive off-balance-sheet financing. See also: Enron scandal.

off-balance-sheet financing

An accounting technique in which a debt for which a company is obligated does not appear on the company's balance sheet as a liability. Keeping debt off the balance sheet allows a company to appear more creditworthy but misrepresents the firm's financial structure to creditors, shareholders, and the public. The sudden collapse of energy-trading giant Enron Corporation is attributed in large part to the firm's off-balance-sheet financing through multiple partnerships.
Case Study The sudden collapse of energy-trading giant Enron Corporation caught regulators, politicians, lenders, analysts, and the public by surprise. In large part the surprise resulted from the billions of dollars of debt the company had been able to hide by using off-balance-sheet financing through hundreds of partnerships. The hidden liabilities allowed Enron to maintain the appearance of a rapidly growing but financially stable company until near the very end, when bankruptcy was imminent. Enron's financial arrangements were complicated and sometimes entailed transferring overvalued assets to partnerships which it had a controlling interest in but was not required to include on its own balance sheet. The partnerships, with minimal equity capital from outside investors, raised most of their capital from loans using Enron stock, transferred assets, or pledges from Enron as collateral. Although Enron used aggressive accounting methods, many of the accounting techniques it employed were not illegal. For this the accounting profession was called to task.
References in periodicals archive ?
Fortunately, the Boards' efforts over the years have culminated in Proposed Accounting Standards Update--Leases (Topic 842): A Revision of the 2010 Proposed FASB Accounting Standards Update, Leases (Topic 840), which would sharply curtail the potential for further misuse of lease agreements as a source of off-balance-sheet financing.
That said, we do not take into account possible allocation of off-balance-sheet financing by VEB, since the deal structure is not clear so far (yet we are almost sure the company will receive the bank's assent).
This goal is evidenced in SFAS 94 in its attempt to eliminate the potentially misleading effect of off-balance-sheet financing created by unconsolidated subsidiaries.
FIN 46, the accounting rule that governs off-balance-sheet financing, has changed the economics somewhat on "big-ticket" lease items like jet aircraft, rail cars and power facility equipment, says Halladay, but "big ticket is still being done.
Also in 1999, a joint venture with Shurgard, one nation's largest self-storage REITs, extended Kalikow's ability to provide off-balance-sheet financing to the REIT market, where it can be especially helpful in furthering these public corporation's goal of maintaining a diversified capital base and the emphasis on growth through the development of high quality assets.
It remains to be seen just how public money could lever better off-balance-sheet financing for Europe's minimajors.
Discussion must be directed toward changes in the registrant's debt, equity and off-balance-sheet financing (12) and the effects on financial condition or results of operations (11).
With outsourcing, there is off-balance-sheet financing so corporations can variable-ize their cost structures and get fixed costs down, which helps in valuations.
As some indication of the scale of these problems, almost half of the over 200 items considered by the EITF since its formation in 1984 have focused on financial instruments, financial institutions or off-balance-sheet financing.
The approach should help the FASB resolve today's issues and help practicing accountants answer tomorrow's inevitable accounting questions about innovative financial instruments and off-balance-sheet financing.