Commercial paper, also called CP, is a short-term debt instrument issued by companies to raise funds generally for a time period up to one year. It is an unsecured money market instrument issued in the form of a promissory note and was introduced in India for the first time in 1990.
Companies that enjoy high ratings from rating agencies often use CPs to diversify their sources of short-term borrowings. This gives investors an additional instrument. They are typically issued by large banks or corporations to cover short-term receivables and meet short-term financial obligations, such as funding for a new project.
CPs have a minimum maturity of seven days and a maximum of up to one year from the date of issue. However, the maturity date of the instrument should typically not go beyond the date up to which the credit rating of the issuer is valid. They can be issued in denominations of Rs 5 lakh or multiples thereof.
Since such instruments are not backed by collateral, only firms with high ratings from a recognised credit rating agency can sell such commercial papers at a reasonable price. CPs are usually sold at a discount to their face value, and carry higher interest rates than bonds.
Source: Economic Times