Private Equity Glossary

Cumulative Dividends

Dividends that accrue at a fixed rate until paid are “Cumulative Dividends” which are payments to shareholders made with respect to an investor’s Preferred Stock. Generally, holders of Preferred Shares are contractually entitled to receive dividends prior to holders of Common Stock. Dividends can accumulate at a fixed rate (for example 8%) or simply be payable as and when determined by a company’s Board of Directors in such amount as determined by the board. Because venture backed companies typically need to conserve cash, the use of Cumulative Dividends is customary with the result that the Liquidation Preference increases by an amount equal to the Cumulative Dividends. Cumulative Dividends are often waived if the Preferred Stock converts to Common Stock prior to an IPO but may be included in the aggregate value of Preferred Stock applied to the Conversion Ratio for other purposes. Dividends that are not cumulative are generally called “when, as and if declared dividends.”

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