What it is:
A facility is essentially a bank loan agreement that a company can use on and off for short-term borrowing purposes.
How it works/Example:
For example, let’s assume Company XYZ is a jewelry manufacturer. The company is typically flush with cash in July when retailers place their orders for the upcoming Christmas season. The company is typically tight on cash in December, when orders are lower and it is buying supplies to manufacture the coming year’s designs.
This ebb and flow of cash can ruin a company if it doesn’t have access to a facility. If Company XYZ gets, say, a $2 million facility from the bank, it can borrow up to $2 million (and not necessarily all at the same time) to “get by” in December and then repay that cash six months later in July when it is flush with cash again.
Bank facilities can be overdraft facilities, which provide short-term loans to companies only when their cash accounts actually run dry, or credit facilities, which provide short-term loans to companies when they need supplemental cash for various purposes. Banks might also provide letter of credit facilities or even term loan facilities.
Facilities typically are for limited amounts and don’t require collateral. Often, they come about as part of an equity offering or other financial event that a company may undertake. The terms vary widely, but in most cases, the bank requires repayments monthly or quarterly, in addition to interest, though often companies can “term out” a facility, meaning they can negotiate a longer repayment period with the lender for some larger balances.
Why it matters:
The purpose of most bank facilities is to ensure that a company has access to cash at all times, and they can be particularly important for companies with seasonal sales cycles or other situations in which cash balances are particularly low at times. This prevents the company from having to lay off workers, reduce growth or shut the doors when cash is temporarily low.