7 CFR 4279.131 - Credit quality.

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§ 4279.131 Credit quality.

The Agency will only guarantee loans that are sound and that have a reasonable assurance of repayment. The lender is responsible for conducting a financial analysis that involves the systematic examination and interpretation of information to assess a company's past performance, present condition, and future viability. The lender is primarily responsible for determining credit quality and must address all of the elements of credit quality in a comprehensive, written credit analysis, including capacity (sufficient cash flow to service the debt), collateral ( assets to secure the loan), conditions (borrower, economy, and industry), capital (equity/net worth), and character (integrity of management), as further described in paragraphs (a) through (e) of this section. The lender's analysis is the central underwriting document and must be sufficiently detailed to describe the proposed loan and business situation and document that the proposed loan is sound. The lender's analysis must include a written discussion of repayment ability with a cash-flow analysis, history of debt repayment, borrower's management, necessity of any debt refinancing, and credit reports of the borrower, principals, and any parent, affiliate, or subsidiary. The lender's analysis must also include spreadsheets and discussion of the 3 years of historical balance sheets and income statements (for existing businesses) and 2 years of projected balance sheets, income statements, and cash flow statements, with appropriate ratios and comparisons with industrial standards (such as Dun & Bradstreet or the Risk Management Association). All data must be shown in total dollars and also in common size form, obtained by expressing all balance sheet items as a percentage of assets and all income and expense items as a percentage of sales.

(a)Capacity/cash flow. The lender must make all efforts to ensure the borrower has adequate working capital or operating capital and to structure or restructure debt so that the borrower has adequate debt coverage and the ability to accommodate expansion.

(b)Collateral. The lender must ensure that the collateral for the loan has a documented value sufficient to protect the interest of the lender and the Agency. The discounted collateral value must be at least equal to the loan amount.

(1) The lender must discount collateral consistent with the sound loan-to-discounted value policy outlined in paragraphs (b)(1)(i) through (iv) of this section. The type, quality, and location of collateral are relevant factors used to assess collateral adequacy and appropriate levels of discounting. Other factors to be considered in the discounted value of collateral must include the marketability and alternative uses of the collateral. That is, specialized buildings or equipment will be discounted greater than multi-purpose facilities or equipment. When using discounts other than those outlined in paragraphs (b)(1)(i) through (b)(1)(iv) and when in accordance with paragraph (b)(2), the lender must document why such discounts are appropriate.

(i) A maximum of 80 percent of current fair market value will be given to real estate. Special purpose real estate must be assigned less value.

(ii) A maximum of 70 percent of cost or current fair market value will be given to machinery, equipment, and furniture and fixtures and will be based on its marketability, mobility, useful life, specialization, and alternative uses, if any.

(iii) A maximum of 60 percent of book value will be assigned to acceptable inventory and accounts receivable; however, all accounts over 90 days past due, contra accounts, affiliated accounts, and other accounts deemed not to be acceptable collateral, as determined by the Agency, will be omitted. Calculations to determine the percentage to be applied in the analysis are to be based on the realizable value of the accounts receivable taken from a current aging of accounts receivable from the borrower's most recent financial statement. At a minimum, reviewed annual financial statements will be required when there is a predominant reliance on inventory and/or receivable collateral that exceeds $250,000. Except for working capital loans, term debt must not be dependent upon accounts receivable and inventory to meet collateral requirements.

(iv) No value will be assigned to unsecured personal, partnership, or corporate guarantees.

(2) Some businesses are predominantly cash-flow oriented, and where cash flow and profitability are strong, loan-to-value discounts may be adjusted accordingly with satisfactory documentation. A loan primarily based on cash flow must be supported by a successful and documented financial history. Under no circumstances must the loan-to-value of the collateral (loan-to-fair market value) ever be equal to or greater than 100 percent.

(3) Intangible assets cannot serve as primary collateral.

(4) A parity or junior lien position may be considered provided the loan-to-discounted value is adequate to secure the guaranteed loan in accordance with this section.

(5) The entire loan must be secured by the same security with equal lien priority for the guaranteed and un guaranteed portions of the loan. The unguaranteed portion of the loan will neither be paid first nor given any preference or priority over the guaranteed portion.

(c)Conditions. The lender must consider the current status of the borrower, overall economy, and industry for which credit is being extended. The regulatory environment surrounding the particular business or industry must also be considered. Businesses in areas of decline will be required to provide strong business plans that outline how they differ from the current trends. Local, regional, and national condition of the industry must be addressed.


(1) A minimum of 10 percent tangible balance sheet equity (or a maximum debt to tangible net worth ratio of 9:1) will be required at loan closing for borrowers that are existing businesses. A minimum of 20 percent tangible balance sheet equity (or a maximum debt to tangible net worth ratio of 4:1) will be required at loan closing for borrowers that are new businesses. For energy projects, the minimum tangible balance sheet equity requirement range will be between 25 percent and 40 percent (or a maximum debt to tangible net worth ratio between 3:1 and 1.5:1) at loan closing, considering whether the business is an existing business with a successful financial and management history or a new business; the value of personal/corporate guarantees offered; contractual relationships with suppliers and buyers; credit rating; and strength of the business plan/feasibility study.

(2) Tangible balance sheet equity will be determined based upon financial statements prepared in accordance with GAAP. The capital/equity requirement must be met in the form of either cash or tangible earning assets contributed to the business and reflected on the borrower's balance sheet. Transfers of assets at fair market value between related parties, which are not arm's length transactions, must be in accordance with GAAP and require evidence that the transaction was entered into at market terms. Tangible equity cannot include appraisal surplus, bargain purchase gains, or intangible assets. Owner subordinated debt may be included when the subordinated debt is in exchange for cash injected into the business that remains in the business for the life of the guaranteed loan. The note or other form of evidence must be submitted to the Agency in order for subordinated debt to count towards meeting the tangible balance sheet equity requirement.

(3) The lender must certify, in accordance with § 4279.181(a)(9)(i), that the capital/equity requirement was determined, based on a balance sheet prepared in accordance with GAAP, and met, as of the date the guaranteed loan was closed, giving effect to the entirety of the loan in the calculation, whether or not the loan itself is fully advanced. A copy of the loan closing balance sheet must be included with the lender's certification.

(4) In situations where a real estate holding company and an operating entity are dependent upon one another's operations and are effectively one business, they must be co-borrowers, unless waived by the Agency when the Agency determines that adequate justification exists to not require the entities to be co-borrowers. The capital/equity requirement will apply to all borrowing entities on a consolidated basis, and financial statements must be prepared both individually and on a consolidated basis.

(5) In situations where co-borrowers are independent operations, the capital/equity requirement will apply to all co-borrowers on an individual basis.

(6) For sole proprietorships and other situations where business assets are held personally, financial statements must be prepared using only the assets and liabilities directly attributable to the business. Assets, plus any improvements, must be valued at the lower of cost or fair market value.

(7) Increases in the equity requirement may be imposed by the Agency. A reduction in the capital/equity requirement for existing businesses may be permitted by the Administrator under the following conditions:

(i) Collateralized personal and/or corporate guarantees, in accordance with § 4279.132, when feasible and legally permissible, are obtained; and

(ii) All pro forma and historical financial statements indicate the business to be financed meets or exceeds the median quartile (as identified in the Risk Management Association's Annual Statement Studies or similar publication) for the current ratio, quick ratio, debt-to-worth ratio, and debt coverage ratio.

(e)Character. The lender must conduct a thorough review of key management personnel to ensure that the business has adequately trained and experienced managers. The borrower and all owners with a 20 percent or more ownership interest must have a good credit history, reflecting a record of meeting obligations in a timely manner. If there have been credit problems in the past, the lender must provide a satisfactory explanation to show that the problems are unlikely to recur.

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