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Convertible Notes

Convertible Notes: A Comprehensive Overview

Convertible notes are a popular financing tool for startups and early-stage companies. They offer a flexible alternative to traditional debt or equity financing, providing investors with the potential for higher returns while giving companies access to capital without sacrificing control.

Here's a comprehensive overview of convertible notes:

What are they?

Convertible notes are a type of hybrid security that combines features of both debt and equity. They are essentially loans made to a company, with the option for the investor to convert the principal amount (plus accrued interest) into shares of the company's stock at a later date.

Key features:

  • Principal amount: The amount of money invested by the investor.

  • Interest rate: The annual rate of interest paid on the principal amount. Interest can be accrued or paid in cash.

  • Maturity date: The date on which the note is due to be repaid if not converted.

  • Conversion rate: The price at which the note can be converted into shares of stock. This can be a fixed price, a discount to the next priced round, or a formula based on the company's valuation.

  • Conversion cap: A limit on the number of shares that can be issued upon conversion. This protects the company from excessive dilution.

  • Discounts: Many convertible notes offer investors a discount on the conversion price as an incentive to invest.

Benefits for startups:

  • Flexibility: Convertible notes allow startups to raise capital quickly and easily without having to determine a valuation.

  • Lower cost of capital: Compared to traditional equity financing, convertible notes can have lower interest rates and avoid dilution at an early stage.

  • Alignment of interests: Convertible notes align the interests of investors and founders, as investors benefit from the company's success through stock appreciation.

Benefits for investors:

  • Potential for higher returns: Investors can convert their notes into shares of stock at a discounted price, potentially earning significant returns if the company is successful.

  • Limited downside risk: If the company fails, investors only lose the principal amount of their investment.

  • Early participation: Convertible notes allow investors to get involved with a company at an early stage, potentially gaining significant influence and upside.

Types of convertible notes:

  • Simple convertible notes: These are the most basic type of convertible note, with the features described above.

  • Senior convertible notes: These notes have priority over other debt obligations in the event of a company's bankruptcy.

  • Discounted convertible notes: These notes offer a discount on the conversion price as an incentive to investors.

  • Participating convertible notes: These notes allow investors to receive dividends on their notes in addition to interest.

Considerations for both parties:

  • Valuation: The conversion price of a convertible note is a critical factor, as it determines the potential return for investors and the dilution for founders.

  • Maturity date: The maturity date should be set to allow the company sufficient time to achieve a successful financing event and avoid default on the note.

  • Legal and tax implications: Both investors and companies should consult with legal and tax professionals to understand the implications of using convertible notes.

Accounting for Convertible Notes in Singapore

Convertible notes are considered hybrid financial instruments under Singapore Financial Reporting Standards (SFRS) 32. This means they have characteristics of both debt and equity and need to be accounted for accordingly.

Initial recognition:

  • Debit: Cash

  • Credit: Convertible notes payable

The initial recognition reflects the issuance of the convertible note for cash received by the company.

Interest accrual:

  • Debit: Convertible notes payable - interest expense

  • Credit: Interest payable

Interest accrues on the outstanding principal amount of the convertible note over the period until conversion or maturity.


  • Debit: Convertible notes payable

  • Credit: Share capital

  • Credit: Paid-in capital

When the note is converted to shares, the principal amount and accrued interest are removed from the convertible notes payable account and recorded as share capital and paid-in capital, respectively.


  • Debit: Convertible notes payable

  • Credit: Cash

If the note is not converted by the maturity date, the company must repay the principal amount to the investor.

Specific considerations in Singapore:

  • Classification:

  • Debt classification: If the conversion option is not mandatory, the convertible note is classified as debt until conversion.

  • Equity classification: If the conversion option is mandatory, the convertible note is classified as equity from the date of issuance.

  • Fair value measurement:

  • Debt component: Measured using the present value of the future cash flows, discounted at the market interest rate for similar debt instruments without conversion options.

  • Equity component: Measured as the difference between the proceeds of the issuance and the fair value of the debt component.

  • Disclosure:

  • Detailed information about the convertible notes, including terms, conversion price, maturity date, and fair value, should be disclosed in the financial statements.


Professional Accounting Advice for Convertible Notes in Singapore

This information is for general guidance only. Consult with Bestar for specific advice regarding your situation.

While the general accounting principles outlined above provide a basic framework for accounting for convertible notes in Singapore, seeking professional advice from a qualified accountant and financial advisor is crucial for ensuring accurate and compliant financial reporting. Here are specific areas where professional assistance can be beneficial:

1. Classification and Initial Recognition:

  • Determining the appropriate classification: Whether the convertible note is classified as debt or equity initially depends on the specific terms, particularly the mandatory or non-mandatory nature of the conversion option. A qualified accountant can analyze the terms and provide guidance on the correct classification according to SFRS 32.

  • Initial recognition and valuation: Professional assistance can ensure accurate recording of the convertible notes payable and any related interest payable, considering fair value measurements and applicable discount rates.

2. Interest Accrual and Fair Value Measurement:

  • Calculating accrued interest: Accruing interest correctly requires understanding the applicable interest rate and period, which may involve complex calculations for non-standard interest terms. A professional accountant can handle these calculations accurately.

  • Fair value measurement: Measuring the fair value of the convertible note involves assessing both the debt and equity components, taking into account market interest rates, conversion prices, and other relevant factors. Professional expertise helps ensure accurate and reliable fair value determination.

3. Conversion and Maturity Events:

  • Accounting for conversion: Converting convertible notes to shares requires proper accounting treatment for the removal of the note payable and the issuance of share capital. A qualified accountant can guide the company through this process and ensure compliance with relevant accounting standards.

  • Maturity and repayment: If the note is not converted by maturity, the company needs to repay the principal amount. Professional advice can help ensure timely and accurate accounting treatment for the repayment and any related interest expense.

4. Disclosure Requirements:

  • Comprehensive disclosure: SFRS 32 requires detailed disclosure of information related to convertible notes in the financial statements. A professional accountant can prepare the necessary disclosures and ensure they comply with the relevant standards.

  • Tax implications: The issuance, conversion, and maturity of convertible notes may have tax implications for the company and investors. A financial advisor can provide guidance on the potential tax consequences and ensure compliance with tax regulations.

5. Specific Situations and Complexities:

  • Non-standard terms: Convertible notes may have complex terms beyond the basic features, such as anti-dilution provisions or redemption options. A qualified accountant can analyze such terms and provide guidance on their accounting implications.

  • Multiple financing rounds: Companies may raise capital through multiple convertible note issuances with varying terms. Professional assistance can ensure consistent and accurate accounting treatment across different financing rounds.

Overall, seeking professional accounting advice for convertible notes in Singapore offers several benefits:

  • Accuracy and compliance: Ensures adherence to SFRS 32 and other relevant accounting standards.

  • Reduced risk of errors: Helps avoid costly mistakes and potential regulatory issues.

  • Improved financial reporting: Provides transparency and enhances investor confidence.

  • Time and resource efficiency: Allows companies to focus on core operations while leaving accounting matters to experts.

By partnering with a qualified accountant and financial advisor, companies can navigate the complexities of accounting for convertible notes in Singapore confidently and effectively.

Contact Bestar today!

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