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Equity Swap


An Equity Swap is a financial derivative contract where two parties agree to exchange a set of future cash flows. Typically, one party agrees to pay the other the returns gained through equity ownership, including capital gains and dividends, while the other party pays either a fixed or a floating rate of interest. The agreement allows investors to hedge against risk or gain exposure to assets without actually owning them.


The phonetics of the keyword “Equity Swap” would be: “Eh-kwuh-tee Swop”

Key Takeaways

Equity Swap

  1. Contractual Agreement: An equity swap is a contractual agreement between two parties where one party pays the total return (capital gains and income) of an equity, equity index or basket of equities, and in return, the other party makes periodic interest payments based on a fixed or floating rate of interest. It often involves swapping income streams or values from two different sources for a specified time period.

  2. Used for Leveraging and Hedging: Equity swaps are often used for leveraging portfolio without needing to buy or sell the actual underlying assets. They also provide the opportunity for individuals or organizations to hedge against unwanted equity risks, thus providing complete flexibility to change their risk profiles.

  3. No Ownership Change: In an equity swap, the ownership of the underlying equity is not transferred. Instead, the parties ‘swap’ the gains or losses of the equity without owning them. This means the swaps can provide benefits of ownership without the need to have the actual ownership or control over the underlying asset.


Equity swaps are important in business and finance since they allow parties to exchange the return of an equity index for a fixed or floating return. This mechanism provides several benefits, such as assisting investors to gain exposure or hedge risks associated with certain market indexes without having to physically own the underlining equities. Additionally, equity swaps can offer significant tax advantages, regulatory benefits and lower transaction costs than purchasing the individual stocks. Moreover, because equity swaps can be custom-tailored to fit specific needs around timing, cash flow, and risks, the parties involved can achieve their specific financial objectives more efficiently and effectively.


Equity swaps are financial derivative contracts that allow investors to exchange both the gains, and in many cases the risks, associated with one asset or group of assets for another’s. They serve a variety of purposes, depending on the clients’ investing goals and risk management needs. For instance, they can be useful for hedge funds and other investors looking to gain exposure to an asset class or market without having to buy or sell the underlying securities outright. In this case, one party will pay a fixed or floating rate, while the other party will pay the return on the equity index.One significant use of equity swaps is for investors to avoid transaction costs, tax implications or regulatory restrictions associated with owning the underlying asset directly. They also provide portfolio managers with the opportunity to overhaul their portfolios without triggering capital gains taxes. Moreover, equity swaps provide a means of hedging against price movements in the underlying securities. For instance, if an investor has a large exposure to a particular equity, they might arrange an equity swap where they receive a fixed income return in exchange for the equity returns, effectively protecting themselves from any downside risk.


1. Example 1: Hedge Funds – Some hedge funds choose to go with an equity swap to get large exposures to different equities without having to go through the process of buying and selling the stock. For example, a hedge fund manager might enter into an equity swap with an investment bank, where the hedge fund would receive the returns of a certain equity, let’s say Apple Inc.’s stock, over a specified period and pay a fixed rate or floating rate in return.2. Example 2: Investment Banks – Investment banks often use equity swaps as part of their financing strategies. For instance, an investment bank could enter into an equity swap with an investor where the bank would receive the return on a certain equity, say Microsoft Corporation, while the investor would receive a fixed return pegged at a certain interest rate. This way, the bank can receive return on the equity without having to hold the underlying asset.3. Example 3: Pension Funds – A pension fund could use an equity swap to limit less or remove exposure to equities in a market where they anticipate there might be downturns. This can be done by swapping the return on the equity/stock portfolio they own for a fixed income (i.e., a fixed interest rate) over a specified period. This helps to protect the pension fund from potential losses from declining prices in the equities market.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is an Equity Swap?

An Equity Swap is a financial derivative contract where two counterparties agree to exchange a set of future cash flows. Typically, one party agrees to pay with a return generated from a fixed rate or an asset while the other party pays with the return from an equity index.

How does an equity swap work?

In an equity swap, both parties agree to exchange two different types of cash flows. One party pays the equity return (this can be a single stock, a basket of stocks, or a stock index) while the other party pays either a fixed or floating cash flow.

What is the primary purpose of an equity swap?

The primary purpose of an equity swap is to switch the type of cash flow. A company might want to change its fixed rate to a floating rate and vice versa, or switch their equity financing to debt financing.

Who uses equity swaps?

Equity swaps are mostly used by hedge funds, large financial institutions, and private equity firms who want to avoid transaction costs, requisition processes, or legal and tax liabilities.

What are the risks associated with equity swaps?

Equity swaps are not risk-free. Risks may include changes in the market value of the equity index or asset, changes in interest rates for those paying the floating leg, as well as counterparty risk where either party fails to make their agreed-upon payment.

What are the advantages of using equity swaps?

Advantages include the ability to obtain exposure to a certain equity or index without having to directly own the assets, the ability to hedge away risks, and avoid transaction costs associated with buying and selling assets.

Can equity swaps be tailored to specific needs?

Yes, equity swaps can be tailored according to the needs of the involved parties. This customization might include payment frequencies, maturity dates, the type of rate (fixed or floating), and the equity or index return being swapped.

How are equity swaps settled?

Equity Swaps can be cash-settled or physically settled, but it’s more common to see a cash-settlement where the counterparties just exchange the net difference between the returns.

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