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Keywords:

  • Debt covenants;
  • Restrictiveness;
  • Bank loan agreements

This paper investigates the accounting based covenants typically contained in the private debt contracts of listed Australian firms. In particular, cross sectional determinants of variation in covenant utilisation and restrictiveness are investigated. The primary source of data presented in the paper is a questionnaire completed by senior corporate managers of banks lending to listed Australian firms. In addition, standard and actual bank loan agreements are analysed. The survey results indicate that there is considerable cross-sectional variation in the utilisation and restrictiveness of covenants included in Australian private debt contracts, with this variation being partially explained by firm size and industry membership. The covenants most likely to be included are leverage, interest coverage, current, and prior charges ratios.