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Convertible Arbitrage: Definition With Example

Generating returns from the stock market offers several strategies beyond the commonly known technical and fundamental approaches. One such often overlooked segment recognised by investors is the convertible arbitrage strategy. This technique presents unique opportunities for investors seeking alternative avenues for profit.

Introduction to Convertible Arbitrage

Convertible arbitrage, also known as convertible bond arbitrage is a complex investment strategy that hedge funds and sophisticated investors utilise to capitalise on pricing inefficiencies in convertible securities. This technique capitalises on price differences between a convertible bond and its underlying equity. Under this, investors buy convertible bonds and concurrently sell the underlying equity shares short. By doing so, they intend to benefit from the difference in value between the bond’s underlying stock and its price. The stock short position reduces downside risk, while the convertible bond component offers a fixed income stream.

The Mechanics of Convertible Arbitrage Funds

Understanding how convertible arbitrage functions involves examining three potential outcomes that may arise.

Scenario 1:

In this case, short positions in the company’s shares produce gains when the convertible bond’s price declines. Despite being a fixed-income asset, bonds usually have minimal price declines. The difference between profits from shorting the stock and the price decline of the convertible bond is what investors can expect to be compensated for.

Scenario 2:

Here, short positions on the company’s stock incur losses as the price of the convertible bond rises. While this increase cushions the losses, convertible arbitrage offers minimal protection against such price upticks, potentially leading to diminished returns.

Scenario 3:

Under this situation, if the stock price remains unchanged, the convertible bond earns revenue through monthly interest payments. These gains can outweigh the costs of holding short positions in the company’s shares, typically resulting in a break-even scenario.

Convertible Arbitrage Example 

Let’s say there’s an Indian company, ABC Ltd., whose stock is currently trading at Rs. 1,000 per share. ABC Ltd. also has a convertible bond outstanding, which is trading at Rs. 11,000. Each convertible bond can be converted into 10 shares of ABC Ltd. stock.

Now, an investor who wants to engage in convertible arbitrage can take the following steps:

  • Buy the Convertible Bond: The investor purchases the convertible bond at Rs. 11,000 per bond.
  • Short Sell the Stock: Simultaneously, the investor short sells the equivalent amount of ABC Ltd. stock. Since each bond can be converted into 10 shares, for every bond bought, the investor shorts 10 shares of ABC Ltd. stock.

So, if the investor buys 1 convertible bond (costing Rs. 11,000), they would short-sell 10 shares of ABC Ltd. stock (valued at Rs. 10,000).

Importance of Convertible Arbitrage

  • Risk Reduction Through Long-Short Position: A convertible arbitrage book involves taking both long and short positions, which helps mitigate risks. Shorting the stock allows traders to benefit from market downturns while holding the convertible bond offers a safer fixed-income investment.
  • Benefit from Market Direction: With a short position in the stock, traders profit if the stock value decreases. Conversely, the fixed-income nature of convertible bonds provides stability, offering protection against significant losses.
  • Limited Losses in Rising Markets: Losses on the short stock position are limited if the stock price rises since they are offset by profits on the convertible security. This reduces the amount of funds arbitragers might lose in a bull market.
  • Consistent Income in Stable Markets: The convertible security pays fixed coupon rates even in situations where the stock price is constant. The expenses incurred in maintaining a short stock position are covered by these profits, providing traders with a consistent source of revenue.
  • Exploiting Pricing Inefficiencies: Convertible bonds are often priced inefficiently compared to the company’s shares, possibly due to attractive interest rates offered to investors. Arbitrageurs capitalise on these pricing discrepancies, leveraging the mispricing to generate profits.

Challenges in Convertible Arbitrage

  • Market Volatility: Market fluctuations can have an impact on the success of convertible arbitrage techniques, frequently resulting in unanticipated losses.
  • Liquidity Risk: Convertible securities may suffer from liquidity limitations, making it difficult to execute trades at favourable prices, particularly in volatile market settings.


When convertible arbitrage is used well, it may result in successful transactions, especially when the market is falling. Consequently, before implementing this approach into action, it is imperative to perform a comprehensive market evaluation to validate a downward trend. Using convertible arbitrage to its fullest extent during market downturns is ensured by this technique.


What are the objectives of the convertible arbitrage strategy?

Convertible arbitrage aims to produce consistent profits by leveraging variations in prices between convertible bonds and their underlying equities. This strategy aims to minimise risk by simultaneously holding long positions in convertible securities and short positions in the corresponding stocks. By capitalising on market inefficiencies, convertible arbitrage seeks to achieve profitable outcomes regardless of market direction, providing investors with a balanced approach to portfolio management.

Is convertible arbitrage suitable for all investors?

Convertible arbitrage may not be suitable for all investors due to its complex nature and specific risk characteristics. It requires a deep understanding of both equity and fixed-income markets, as well as the ability to execute trades swiftly and accurately. Additionally, this strategy can involve leverage and may be sensitive to changes in interest rates and market conditions. Therefore, investors with a high-risk tolerance, sufficient expertise, and access to advanced trading tools may find convertible arbitrage more suitable.

What are the key risks associated with convertible arbitrage?

The key risks associated with convertible arbitrage include market volatility, where sudden fluctuations can impact the profitability of the strategy. Credit risk is another concern, as the issuer of the convertible security may default on its obligations. Interest rate risk arises from changes in interest rates affecting the value of fixed-income components. Liquidity risk is also significant, as difficulties in buying or selling securities at favourable prices can impede trading. Additionally, regulatory changes and macroeconomic factors can affect the effectiveness of convertible arbitrage strategies.

Who should consider investing in convertible arbitrage?

Convertible arbitrage is suitable for sophisticated investors with a high-risk tolerance and understanding of complex financial instruments. Those with experience in derivatives and hedging strategies are best positioned to navigate the intricacies of this investment approach. Additionally, investors seeking diversification benefits and consistent returns may find convertible arbitrage appealing. However, due to its complexity and potential for losses in volatile market conditions, it may not be suitable for all investors, particularly those with a limited understanding of advanced trading strategies.

Is a convertible bond considered equivalent to stock?

A convertible bond possesses attributes of both debt and equity instruments. While initially functioning as a fixed-income investment with periodic interest payments, it offers the option to convert into a predetermined number of common stock shares at the bondholder’s discretion. Thus, while convertible bonds maintain their fixed-income characteristics, the potential for conversion imbues them with equity-like features, blurring the line between debt and stock.

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