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The act of changing a company's capital structure. For example, a highly leveraged company (one that is largely financed with debt) may repay most of its debt and issue stock so that it is financed with equity. On the other hand, a company may make a self-tender offer and buy back most of its stock while issuing bonds so that it becomes debt-financed. Some companies may believe that recapitalization can be advantageous, but the capital structure irrelevance principle states that a company's capital structure has no bearing on its profitability. Recapitalization is also called an e-type reorganization.
A change a company makes in the long-term financing mix it uses. For example, a firm may borrow long-term funds (that is, it may sell bonds) in order to acquire the money needed to repurchase a block of its outstanding stock. Because recapitalization will often affect the level and the volatility of earnings per share, it is of interest to stockholders. Recapitalization often occurs when a firm attempts to reorganize while in bankruptcy proceedings.