What is Intercompany Loan?
Intercompany loan is the amount lent or advance given by one company (in a group of companies) to another company (in the same group of companies) for various purposes including to help the cashflow of the borrowing company or to fund the fixed assets or to fund the normal business operations of the borrowing company, which gives rise to interest income to lending company & interest expense to borrowing company.
- A loan is treated as an intercompany loan only when the borrower & lender belongs to the same group of companies. Here, both the entities are called as related entities or related parties.
- It is used as a cash flow management technique by the head of the cash department of the holding company or group company.
- Say, one entity is running into losses & another company has huge cash inflows with lower cash-expenses. The management of the cash-crunch company can decide the taken loan from the surplus-funded company.
- The interest rates are driven by agreements between the parties. The tenor, method of payment, frequency of payment, and all other stuff are agreed upon as per agreement only.
- This basically helps to avoid the spreads earned by banks & to manage short term finance for the related companies.
How Does it Work?
- Before the initiation of the loan, corporate law compliances are made by both the entities (i.e., lender as well as borrower companies). Basic documents of approval are made & then the actual cash flow things are shared between each other.
- The agreement usually specifies the tenor of the loan. However, it is normally made for short term finances i.e., to fund the company which has a cash crunch.
- On the other hand, few companies can also enter into long term loan agreements as per the need.
- In either of the cases, loan agreements are required for corporate compliances & tax compliances.
- In many corporate entities these days, we have the concept of treasury centers wherein the cash-rich companies deposit their unrequired excess funds into the treasury center, and at the same time, the cash-poor companies withdraw the balance as per requirement. Such a treasury center is often made with the control objective in place.
Example of Intercompany Loans
Let’s take an example.
Let’s have a look over the intercompany loan calculations:
- The borrowing company will present $9.2 million as interest expense & $150 million as a loan from a related party in its books of accounts. It will also provide disclosures in its notes to accounts regarding the said transaction.
- The lender company will show $9.2 million as interest company with $150 million as advance given to the related parties. It will provide the relevant disclosures as mandated by the accounting standards.
Reasons for Intercompany Loans
- Supporting the operations of the entity in a group that has lower cash resources or which cannot raise finance through a bank or another institution.
- To diversity the business of the group entities through an investment mechanism.
- To save time & efforts (i.e., documentation, follow-ups, payment schedule, etc.) on the funding from the financial institutions.
- To save on the spreads earned by banks.
- To improve the face of financials of the borrowing entity.
- To discourage external commercial borrowings & to encourage domestic borrowings within the group itself. It saves on the foreign exchange gains or losses.
- To help the borrowing entity to focus on the main business rather than to focus on the finances part.
- Other reasons may include the purchasing of fixed assets or high-end machinery or re-organization of the whole entity or working capital management.
- One of the biggest challenges is to deal with the tax impacts of the intercompany loan agreements. Taxing authorities require the loan to be managed as per the market-driven interest rates i.e., at arm’s length price. In case arm’s length price is questioned by the taxing authorities, the lender, as well as borrower, may fall into the trouble of tax penalties, interests, or any severe costs. Thus, it seems easy for two companies to exchange the amounts in a fraction of seconds, but managing the tax front is not that easy in case of intercompany loans. Satisfy the tax authorities regarding base erosion & profit shifting, requires expertise.
- Lack of documentation can cause the loan to be treated as an investment by one entity into another. Now, this has serious tax implications than the mere lending part. Hence, documentation of the loan arrangement is also a tough task to deal with.
- Normally, intercompany loan agreements are made to avoid the bank spreads. To evaluate the outcome of the arrangement, we are concerned with the two things. The first thing is savings due to avoidance of bank spreads, and the second thing is the administrative costs involved in the arrangement. If the former exceeds the latter, the agreement is profitable. However, if the latter exceeds the first, there is the possibility of uninvited troubles.
When are they Useful?
Intercompany loans may be seen as useful in the following scenarios:
- Companies are not required to prove their credit standing to the related entity in the group.
- This ensures an easier flow of funds as compared to institutional loans from banking companies.
- These loans are available at the click of mouse pointers subject to the documentation hurdle to be suffered.
- The flexibility of the repayment terms & other terms can be agreed over between the entities & tax authorities normally have no issue with the tenor of the loans.
Intercompany Loans vs. Capital Contribution
|Intercompany Loans||Capital Contribution|
|Loans are given by one related entity to another related entity of the same group.||These are investments by one entity to another entity.|
|The lender earns interest income.||The lender earns dividend income from the investee company.|
|The lending company acquired the position of “finance providers” & not owners.||Investor acquires the position of owners in the investee company.|
|The return is assured by the agreement & has to be paid by the rule of finance.||The return is not assured & it depends on the profits of the investee company.|
|Tax compliances are stricter.||Regulatory compliances are stricter.|
|The lender does not take part in the business of the borrowing company.||The lender has the right to take part in the business of the borrowing company.|
|It increases the debt-equity ratio of the borrowing company.||It reduces the debt-equity ratio.|
|The lender acquires no special rights from the borrowing company other than the commitment to pay the interest due on time.||The investor may acquire special rights such as preferential payment of dividends.|
Even if the intercompany loans are treated as assets and liabilities in the respective entities, these balances are required to be eliminated at the time of group consolidation of accounts. Like other loans, the borrowing company is required to repay back the principal amount at the end of loan tenor. Companies cannot deny such payments, since such denial may have serious tax as well as regulatory implications on both the entities. So as to conclude, they are primarily provided for short term finance, and thus, settlements in the same time frame make the job easy.
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This has been a guide to what is Intercompany Loans and its definition. Here we discuss challenges, examples, and how do intercompany loans work along with reasons and uses. You may learn more about financing from the following articles –