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My understanding is that firms typically issue callable bonds to benefit from possible refinancing in a lower interest rate environment. What, then, is the point of issuing a bond, say, today (06/30/2021) with it maturing 06/30/2031 and its first call date being 01/31/2031? The issuer surely can't expect to benefit from calling this bond from a purely refinancing position. What would motivate an issuer to do such a thing? Seems very bizarre to me...

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Some categories of bond issuers, particularly some financial institutions, have regulatory requirements to jump through some mildly annoying liquidity hoops when they have outstanding bonds with less than 1 year left to maturity. Such issuers often find it more convenient to issue bonds that have a call date 1 year (or sometimes more) before maturity. You will find it on a lot of 10+ year bonds issued since these liquidity requirements went into effect. This kind of callability feature is not motivated by the issuer hoping to be able to borrow more cheaply. Rather, the issuer expects to get the money at whatever cost to pay off the bond and then to do it - to call the bond. Sometimes the issuer also signals at origination their firm intention to exercise the call by setting up the coupon (e.g. fix to float) to increase significantly if the call is not exercised.

Edit: If you've read that "firms typically issue callable bonds to benefit from possible refinancing in a lower interest rate environment" in a book, then I advise you to stop reading that book, which sounds like it was written decades ago by someone who never had any job outside academia. In reality, bond issuers might sell callable bonds in hopes that their credit spread will tighten and/or risk-free interest rates will decrease (not a likely bet in the current environment) and then calling and refinancing would save a little interest. But bond buyers recognize this risk and now have the tools to price it fairly and demand higher yield from callable bonds - so this motivation isn't as compelling as it might have been back when your book was written. Today, a more likely motivation for selling a 30NC3 bond might be to show it as long-term debt on financial statements, while at the same time convincing bond investors to accept a yield close to what they'd demand from a 3Y bond (lower than what they'd demand for bona fide long term debt).

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the good answer Dimitri. All the answers to this question (this is a duplicate of quant.stackexchange.com/questions/35667/…) focus on regulatory requirements. Aren't the regulatory requirements almost exclusively for financial institutions? I also see a large increase in these types of bonds for non-FI, what would the rationale (or regulations) be for these issuers? $\endgroup$ Jul 7 '21 at 10:23

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