What is a repurchase agreement?

A repurchase agreement, or “repo”, is a financial transaction that involves the sale of securities, usually government bonds or treasury bills.

The transaction comes with the agreement that the seller will repurchase them later for a marginally higher price.

It is essentially a short-term loan, where the securities act as collateral.

Repo transactions play a crucial role in financial markets, allowing participants to access short-term funding and manage their liquidity needs. 

Repos also help central banks implement monetary policy by controlling the money supply and influencing interest rates.

What is a repurchase agreement all about?

A repurchase agreement can be understood as a temporary lending arrangement between two parties.

It is a vital tool in the financial markets, allowing participants like banks, hedge funds, and financial institutions to access short-term funding while offering investors a relatively low-risk investment option. 

A stock repurchase agreement is a specific type of repo that involves the sale and repurchase of stocks.

Repo transactions are essential for maintaining the smooth functioning of financial markets, ensuring the availability of liquidity, and facilitating the flow of credit.

How does a repurchase agreement work?

In a repo transaction, one party sells securities to another party and agrees to repurchase them at a specified date and price.

The difference between the initial sale price and the repurchase price reflects the interest earned by the lender. 

Repos are usually short-term, ranging from overnight to a few weeks.

Repo agreements can have fixed or open terms, with fixed-term agreements specifying an exact repurchase date and open agreements allowing either party to terminate the agreement with notice. 

In the context of repo vs. reverse repo, a repo transaction is when a party borrows money and provides securities as collateral.

A reverse repo is when a party lends money and receives securities as collateral.

Types of repurchase agreements

There are several types of repos, each with unique characteristics:

Classic Repo

The most common type, where the lender receives securities as collateral from the borrower for a short period.

Classic repos are the backbone of the repo market and facilitate short-term lending between financial institutions.


Similar to a classic repo, but structured as two separate sales rather than a loan.

The lender sells the securities back to the borrower at a higher price, reflecting the interest.

Buy/sell-back transactions are commonly used for longer-term funding and offer more flexibility in terms of collateral management.

Tri-Party Repo

Involves a third party, usually a clearing agent or bank, that facilitates the transaction and handles collateral management.

This reduces counterparty risk and increases efficiency.

Tri-party repos are popular among institutional investors and large financial institutions due to the added security and convenience provided by the third-party agent.

Held-in-Custody Repo

The borrower retains custody of the collateral securities while still using them as collateral for the loan.

This type is less common and riskier for the lender, as they do not have direct control over the collateral.

However, held-in-custody repos can offer the borrower cost savings and operational efficiencies.

Repurchase agreement example

Imagine Company A needs short-term funding and has a portfolio of government bonds.

Company B, an investment firm, has excess cash and is looking for a low-risk investment.

Company A sells $1 million worth of bonds to Company B for $990,000 and agrees to repurchase them for $1 million in one month’s time. 

Company B earns $10,000 as interest, while Company A gets the cash it needs.

This example demonstrates the core mechanics of a repo transaction and how both parties can benefit.

Reduce risks with a repurchase agreement

Repos help reduce risks for both parties involved.

The lender, typically an investor or financial institution, is protected as they hold the securities as collateral, which can be sold if the borrower defaults. 

For the borrower, it provides access to short-term funding without selling valuable assets outright. Repos are considered low-risk investments due to their short-term nature and the high-quality collateral involved.

In addition, the repo market is highly regulated, with market participants adhering to strict guidelines and regulations to ensure transparency and minimize risk.

Repurchase agreements are essential in financial markets, providing short-term liquidity and low-risk investment opportunities for market participants.

By understanding the different types of repurchase agreements and the dynamics of repo vs. reverse repo transactions, you can better navigate the world of finance and make informed decisions. 

The repo market plays a significant role in supporting economic growth and stability by ensuring the smooth flow of credit and liquidity within the financial system. 

As an investor or financial professional, it is crucial to know what a repurchase agreement is and be aware of the mechanics and implications of repo transactions to take advantage of opportunities and mitigate risks.

Utilize PandaDoc’s robust repurchase agreement template

Why not make things easier with a repurchase agreement template from PandaDoc? 

If you’re looking to sell back your shares to a company, or if you’re a company requesting the buy-back of outstanding shares, our template helps make the process quick and easy.