What is Paid-in-Kind (PIK) Interest?
PIK Interest is a feature of debt that allows the interest expense due to be accrued for a specified number of years, as opposed to being paid in cash in the current period.
In exchange for the deferred payout of the cash interest expense and the borrower retaining the cash for additional time, the debt principal coming due on the date of maturity increases.
- What does “PIK” interest stand for?
- Why might a company prefer paying interest in the form of PIK rather than cash?
- How is a PIK toggle different from debt with an agreed-upon PIK schedule?
- When does the issuance of PIK debt in the credit markets typically increase?
In This Article
PIK Interest Definition
PIK interest stands for “Paid-in-Kind” and is defined as the amount of interest expense charged by a lender which accrues towards the ending debt balance (principal).
Opting for PIK helps the borrower conserve cash since the interest payments are pushed back to a later date. Or in the case of preferred equity, the payout of cash dividends could be deferred for a set, agreed-upon duration.
The downside to PIK interest, however, is that the total debt principal increases each year until maturity. In effect, this increases the interest expense due to growth in the principal amount.
With each passing period, the amount of PIK interest due can increase quickly due to the effects of compounding interest, which can significantly heighten default risk.
PIK interest benefits the borrower by providing optionality to push back cash interest payments on debt. In turn, lenders are compensated by the accrual of the periodic interest expense towards the ending balance (i.e. higher principal) until maturity. The PIK rate also typically accrues at a rate higher than the cash interest rate in lieu of immediate cash compensation.
Each year after the issuance of the security with PIK interest, the due interest expense is impacted by the following factors:
- Initial Principal Amount
- “Rolled-Up” Interest
Certain debt instruments may come with partial PIK interest. For example, a loan with a 10.0% interest rate and 50.0% PIK component means that half of the interest is going to be paid using cash, while the remaining half is accrued.
PIK Interest Formula
To calculate the PIK interest, the formula consists of the PIK interest rate being multiplied by the beginning balance of the applicable debt security or preferred equity.
Note that if there are mandatory repayments (i.e. principal amortization) associated with the debt, the formula must account for the repaid debt. This would reduce the interest expense due and the end of period debt balance.
Whether the interest expense is paid in cash or PIK, the debt principal and the accrued interest payments must be paid by maturity at the end of the borrowing term, per the lending agreement.
PIK Toggle Meaning
Often, debt comes arranged with a fixed PIK schedule outlined in the lending agreement. But another form of PIK interest is referred to as a PIK toggle, which is an agreement between the issuer and borrower that provides the borrower with the optionality to defer an interest payment if needed.
Based on the liquidity needs of the borrower (i.e. cash on hand) or other conditional provisions, this feature lets a borrower reduce its cash outflows.
If a PIK toggle is in place, the decision on whether interest expense is paid-in-cash or PIK becomes more of a discretionary decision made on the specific circumstances regarding the credit health of the borrower.
PIK interest can be especially attractive to borrowers that are looking to avoid having to incur interest payments to conserve cash (i.e., leveraged buyouts).
In addition, companies that have found themselves in poor financial conditions and requiring debt restructuring can seek to renegotiate debt terms to include the option for PIK.
PIK Interest Concept Check
To confirm your understanding of the PIK interest concept, review the following accounting question.
If a company has incurred $10 in PIK interest, how are the three financial statements impacted?
- IS: On the income statement, interest expense will increase by $10, which causes operating income (EBIT) to decrease by $10. Assuming a 30% tax rate, net income decreases by $7.
- CFS: On the cash flow statement, net income will be down by $7, but the $10 non-cash PIK interest is added back. The ending cash balance will reflect an increase of $3.
- BS: On the assets side of the balance sheet, cash will have increased by $3. Then on the liabilities & equity side, the debt balance should have increased by $10 since the PIK accrues to the debt’s ending balance, and net income is going to be down by $7. Putting them together, both the assets and liabilities & equity side is up by $3 (and the balance sheet remains in balance).
Excel Template Download
Now, let’s go through a simple PIK interest modeling exercise. To follow along with the tutorial, fill out the form below to access the file.
PIK Interest Calculation Example
In this tutorial, we’ll be forecasting the interest expense payments of a hypothetical company that has borrowed subordinated notes with the PIK optionality.
Listed below are the debt assumptions we’ll use for this particular modeling exercise.
- Subordinates Notes Beginning Balance in Year 1 = $1m
- PIK Interest Rate = 8.0%
- Cash Interest Rate = 4.0%
Rather than a straight 12.0% cash interest rate, 4.0% will be paid-in-cash with 8.0% charged in the form of PIK – meaning that throughout the borrowing period, the 8.0% PIK interest accrues towards the beginning balance.
In Year 1, the beginning balance of $1m is multiplied by the 8.0% PIK interest rate to calculate the PIK interest expense, which comes out to be $80k.
Therefore, we can see how the $80k of interest accrued towards the principal for the ending balance calculation for Year 1 for a total of $1.08m.
Here, we can see the direct impact that accrued interest (and the increased balance) has on the amount of interest due each period; or put differently, the compounding effects of PIK interest.
For comparison, we’ll calculate the portion of interest expense paid in cash by multiplying the interest rate (4.0%) by the average subordinated notes balance.
- Interest Expense = Interest Rate x Average (Beginning, Ending Debt Balance)
And since using the average balance in the interest expense formula introduces a circularity into our model, we’ll add a circuit breaker.
- If the circularity cell ($K$4) is set to 1, the circuit breaker is turned off
- Or if a zero is entered into the cell, the circuit breaker is switched on and the output will be zero (i.e. cutting off the circularity inducing calculation)
For instance, the Year 1 cash interest expense is equal to the 4.0% cash interest rate multiplied by the average of the beginning and ending Year 1 sub notes balance ($1m and $1.08m). This comes out to $42k for the cash interest payment in Year 1.
If the cash interest component did not exist and instead of the interest was PIK, no cash interest would be paid throughout the term of the loan. Once the debt matures, the original debt principal and all of the accrued interest would need to be repaid by the borrower.
But in our simplified example, the subordinated notes balance at the end of each period is equal to the sum of the PIK beginning balance and PIK interest accrued.
So in closing, the principal of the subordinated notes has reached approximately $1.47m by the end of Year 5 from the initial balance of $1m at the beginning of Year 1.