What is a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), and can it be used for Bridging Finance

Saturday 3rd December 2022 | 3 minute read

Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs), also know as Special Purpose Entities (SPE) are commonly used for a limited, well-defined purpose, often with a temporary objective. They are commonly used in property transactions, real-estate and property development ventures.

Companies commonly use SPEs to separate themselves from financial risks. They are defined formally as "ring-fenced" legal entities with their own legal identity.

This guide will provide an in-depth understanding of SPVs in bridging finance, including their definition, usage, setup process and benefits.

Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) for Bridging Finance

What is a Special Purpose Vehicle in Bridging Finance?

A Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), also known as a Special Purpose Entity (SPE), is a legal entity created for a specific purpose.

In bridging finance, an SPV is established to isolate and manage the risks associated with a particular transaction. It acts as a separate entity from the parent company, allowing for enhanced financial structuring and risk management.

Why would someone use an SPV?

SPVs offer several advantages that make them a preferred choice in bridging finance:

Risk Isolation: By creating an SPV, the risks and liabilities of a particular transaction are separated from the parent company's balance sheet. This protects the parent company's assets and minimises the impact on its overall financial health.

Limited Liability: SPVs are often structured as limited liability entities, which means that the investors or stakeholders are not personally liable for the SPV's obligations. This limitation on liability provides protection to the investors and encourages their participation in the transaction.

Enhanced Financing Opportunities: SPVs can attract investors and secure financing based on the underlying assets or cash flows of the specific transaction. This allows companies to raise capital without affecting their existing credit lines or financial standing.

Risk Mitigation and Flexibility: SPVs enable the transfer of risk from the parent company to the SPV, allowing for efficient risk management. They also provide flexibility in structuring the financial terms and conditions of the transaction, accommodating the specific needs and requirements of the project.

Tax Efficiency: SPVs can be established in jurisdictions with favourable tax regimes, optimising tax planning and minimising the tax burden associated with the transaction.

How is an SPV set up?

Setting up an SPV involves several steps, including the following:

a. Legal Structure: Determine the appropriate legal structure for the SPV, such as a corporation, limited liability company (LLC), or trust, based on the transaction's requirements and the applicable jurisdiction's regulations.

b. Name and Registration: Choose a unique name for the SPV and register it with the relevant authorities, ensuring compliance with legal and regulatory requirements.

c. Capitalisation: Determine the initial capitalisation of the SPV, which may involve the injection of equity by the parent company or raising capital from external investors through debt or equity instruments.

d. Governance and Directors: Appoint directors or trustees who will oversee the operations of the SPV and ensure compliance with legal and regulatory obligations. Consider engaging independent directors or professionals with relevant expertise, if necessary.

e. Legal Documentation: Prepare the necessary legal documents, such as the articles of incorporation, bylaws, shareholder agreements, and any other contracts or agreements required for the specific transaction.

f. Bank Account and Administrative Setup: Open a dedicated bank account for the SPV to manage the funds related to the transaction. Establish administrative processes and systems to ensure effective operations and reporting.

g. Compliance and Reporting: Understand and comply with the regulatory and reporting obligations imposed on the SPV by the jurisdiction in which it operates. This may include periodic financial reporting, tax filings, and adherence to corporate governance standards.

What are the benefits of using an SPV?/

Utilising an SPV in bridging finance offers several benefits. The top 5 benefits of an SPV are:

  1. Asset Protection: SPVs shield the parent company's assets from the risks associated with a specific transaction, limiting potential losses and preserving the financial health of the parent company.
  2. Risk Management: SPVs provide a structured approach to risk management by isolating the risks of a transaction and transferring them to the SPV, thereby reducing exposure for the parent company.
  3. Financial Structuring: SPVs offer flexibility in structuring financial terms, enabling companies to raise capital without affecting existing credit lines or financial ratios. This allows for efficient capital allocation and optimisation.
  4. Tax Optimisation: By establishing an SPV in a jurisdiction with favourable tax regulations, companies can minimise their tax liability and enhance the overall tax efficiency of the transaction.
  5. Investor Confidence: SPVs enhance investor confidence by providing transparency and clarity regarding the transaction's risks and returns. The limited liability structure also makes investments more attractive to potential stakeholders.

Final thoughts

SPVs are invaluable tools in bridging finance, enabling companies to isolate risks, enhance financial structuring, attract investors, and optimise tax planning. By setting up an SPV, businesses can safeguard their assets, mitigate risks, and create efficient financial structures that support their growth and development.

However, it is important to consult with legal and financial professionals to ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations while establishing and operating an SPV.

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