What Is a Doomsday Call?
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What Is a Doomsday Call?

3 Min.

A doomsday call is a financial provision in a bond that allows the issuer to reduce interest rate risk by redeeming the bond and paying back the principal and accrued interest before maturity. This call option can decrease the overall interest paid on the bond because it shortens the term of the bond. It also has the potential to lower the yield of the bond. The doomsday call option can benefit the bondholder by specifying what they will receive if the issuer decides to exercise it.

Basics

A doomsday call serves as a contractual provision enabling the bond issuer to mitigate interest rate risk through early redemption, involving repayment of both principal and accrued interest before the bond's maturity date.

Exploring a Doomsday Call

A doomsday call, represented by "DD" in bond quotes, is a call option that grants the issuer or investor the authority to redeem the bond prematurely. When exercised, it may reduce the bond's yield by shortening its term, diminishing the total interest disbursed. Informally known as the "Canada call," this provision is frequently incorporated into bonds issued by Canadian corporations.

Bond issuers infrequently opt for a doomsday call, primarily as it's usually more advantageous to let the bond reach maturity. Nevertheless, when substantial interest rate drops occur, an issuer might find merit in exercising the doomsday call. This allows them to introduce new bonds at reduced interest rates, with the issuer repaying the principal and accrued interest ahead of schedule.

A doomsday call provision is structured to maintain a designated yield for the bondholder, offering risk reduction by enabling early principal repayment. The ominous name originates from the bondholder's potential loss of a higher coupon rate if the issuer exercises this option. Conversely, for the issuer, the provision carries positive implications, potentially lowering their borrowing costs.

A doomsday call option safeguards the bondholder, outlining the precise outcome in the event of an issuer option exercise. Typically, this provision prescribes that the bond will be called at a predefined and fixed sum. This predetermined amount is based on a specified spread over government bond yields or the bond's par value, whichever amount is greater.

The Origin of Doomsday Calls

Doomsday calls, initially known by a different name, trace their inception back to the introduction of bonds with this feature by Domtar, a Canadian paper product manufacturer, in 1987. Subsequently, the term "Canada call" emerged, offering a less somber alternative for those who found the original name too gloomy.

Conclusion

The doomsday call in the world of finance provides both issuers and bondholders with a unique tool to manage interest rate risk. This provision allows for early bond redemption, reducing interest expenses and potentially impacting the bond's yield. While it's not frequently exercised, it can be advantageous when interest rates drop significantly, allowing issuers to sell new bonds at lower rates. For bondholders, the doomsday call serves as a safeguard, clearly outlining the terms and outcomes of the provision's execution. Despite its ominous name, the doomsday call is a valuable mechanism in the bond market, with its origins dating back to the late 1980s and its formal introduction by Domtar, offering a less intimidating option for bond issuers and investors alike.

Doomsday Call
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