27th Edition
WARREN + 5 others
ISBN: 9781337272094




27th Edition
WARREN + 5 others
ISBN: 9781337272094
Textbook Problem

Ethics in Action

Edward Seymour is a financial consultant to Cornish Inc., a real estate syndicate. Cornish finances and develops commercial real estate (office buildings) projects. The completed projects are then sold as limited partnership interests to individual investors. The syndicate makes a profit on the sale of these partnership interests. Edward provides financial information for prospective investors in a document called the offering “prospectus.” This document discusses the financial and legal details of the limited partnership investment.

One of the company's current projects, called JEDI 2, has the partnership borrowing money from a local bank to build a commercial office building. The interest rate on the loan is 6.5% for the first four years. After four years, the interest rate jumps to 15% for the remaining 20 years of the loan. The interest expense is one of the major costs of this project and significantly affects the number of renters needed for the project to break even. In the prospectus, Edward has prominently reported that the break-even occupancy for the first four years is 65%. This is the amount of office space that must be leased to cover the interest and general upkeep costs during the first four years. The 65% break-even point is very low compared to similar projects and thus communicates a low risk to potential investors. Edward uses the 65% break-even rate as a major marketing tool in selling the limited partnership interests. Buried in the fine print of the prospectus is additional information that would allow an astute investor to determine that the break-even occupancy jumps to 95% after the fourth year when the interest rate on the loan increases to 15%. Edward believes prospective investors are adequately informed of the investment's risk.

Is Edward behaving ethically? Explain your answer.

To determine

Break-even Point: It refers to a point in the level of operations at which a company experiences its revenues generated is equal to its costs incurred. Thus, when a company reaches at its break-even point, it reports neither an income nor a loss from operations. The formula to calculate the break-even point in sales units is as follows:

Break-evenpointinSales(units) =FixedCostsContributionMarginperunit

To explain: whether Mr. E is behaving ethically.


In the present case, to assess whether Mr. E is behaving ethically is doubtful. It is clearly known that he has reported the break-even occupancy rate of 65% as a marketing tool for selling limited partnerships interests. This low break-even point with less risk is favorable to the potential investors.

However, after the four year, the risk increases dramatically as the break-even point increases from 65% to 95% which is difficult to achieve. He is focusing more on 65% and not providing clear information about the increase in break-even point to 95% is unreliable as it would mislead the potential investors.

This would lead to a controversy when both Mr. E and his potential investors have their own points to argue...

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