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Special Purpose Vehicle
A subsidiary of a company that attempts to isolate risk from the parent company by maintaining its assets and liabilities on a completely separate balance sheet. It can be used as a counterparty in swap transactions, or the parent company can finance a project through an SPV that would put the parent company in danger of bankruptcy if the project does not perform well. During the Enron scandal, SPVs developed notoriety because Enron hid much of its debt in SPVs.