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Abstract

A discount for the lack of marketability is the implicit cost of quickly monetizing a non-marketable asset at its current value. These discounts are used in many venues to determine the fair market value of a non-marketable asset such as a privately-held business. There has been much written on the quantification of the discount for the lack of the marketability which is briefly summarized in this article. Marketability refers to monetizing the non-marketable asset at its cash equivalent current value. Current practice often uses the cost of a put option as a proxy for the discount. A put option insures that the investor will receive no less than the current value of the underlying asset. However, the use of a put also allows the investor to maintain the asset’s upside potential. Therefore, the cost of a put overstates the discount for the lack of marketability. We show that the cost of monetizing a non-marketable asset at its current value through a loan, secured by an at-the-money equity collar, more effectively captures the true cost of marketability. When puts and calls cannot be employed to secure the current value on the underlying asset, a portfolio consisting of the non-marketable asset and a stock index, where puts and calls can be written on the index can be constructed. The effectiveness of the portfolio in creating a risk free outcome depends upon the correlation and volatility of the stock index and the non-marketable asset. We demonstrate that, relative to current practice, the use of an equity collar with a loan greatly reduces the implied discount for the lack of marketability.

JEL Codes

G32, H24, K34

Keywords

Marketability Discounts, Valuation, Gift & Estate Tax

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