As the markets closed for the Easter holiday last Thursday afternoon, The Ryland Group launched a program to buy back in cash as much as $225 million of the company's senior notes.

The cash tender offer is good for three tranches of the California-based builder's debt: its 5.375% senior notes due 2012, 6.875% senior notes due 2013, and 5.375% senior notes due 2015.

Note holders interested in the deal have until close of business on April 14 to receive the company's full tender offer. Notes tendered after that early tender date but before end of business day April 29 will be eligible for cash compensation equal to the full tender offer minus $20 per $1,000 principal amount of the notes. So, for example, a note holder would receive $1,045 for every $1,000 of debt due in 2012, if s/he completed the exchange before April 14 but would only receive $1,025 in cash per $1,000 of debt if tendered between April 15 and 29.

Although the deal is a cash tender offer, it is not a direct pay down on the company's debt. Rather, the company intends to refund the debt with new debt.

Industry watchers speculate the strategy would further ladder out the company's debt, making for a more comfortable maturity schedule. According to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, at 2009 year-end, the company had roughly $856 million in debt on its books. In addition, although the company had little debt coming due in 2010 and 2011, it had some more significant maturities further out on the horizon--$207.1 million due in 2012, $215.2 million due in 2013, and $435.6 million due after 2013.