The Effect of Capital Structure When Expected Agency Costs are Extreme

Campbell R. Harvey, Karl V. Lins, Andrew H. Roper

NBER Working Paper No. 8452
Issued in September 2001
NBER Program(s):Asset Pricing

We provide new evidence that debt creates shareholder value for firms that face agency costs. Our tests are unique in two respects. First, we focus on a sample of firms with potentially extreme agency problems. We study emerging market firms where the routine use of pyramid ownership structures provides an acute separation of management cash flow rights and control rights. Second, we argue that not all debt is the same. Using new data on global debt issuance, we find that the type of debt that positively impacts shareholder value is the type that closely monitors management. This combination of a sample of firms with extreme expected agency problems and detailed information on the different types of debt allows us to construct powerful tests of whether debt can mitigate the effects of agency and information problems. Among other results, we find that the abnormal returns resulting from syndicated term loans (which provide monitoring) are significantly related to the extent of the separation of ownership and control. Our results are consistent with the idea that debt creates value because it reduces the agency costs associated with overinvestment.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w8452

Published: Harvey, Campbell R., Karl V. Lins and Andrew H. Roper. "The Effect Of Capital Structure When Expected Agency Costs Are Extreme," Journal of Financial Economics, 2004, v74(1,Oct), 3-30. citation courtesy of

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