Article: a PhD thesis.
Three essays in dynamic corporate finance
Université de Lausanne, Faculté des hautes études commerciales
Administration BFSH1, 1015 Lausanne
Number of pages
The three essays constituting this thesis focus on financing and cash management policy. The first essay aims to shed light on why firms issue debt so conservatively. In particular, it examines the effects of shareholder and creditor protection on capital structure choices. It starts by building a contingent claims model where financing policy results from a trade-off between tax benefits, contracting costs and agency costs. In this setup, controlling shareholders can divert part of the firms' cash ows as private benefits at the expense of minority share- holders. In addition, shareholders as a class can behave strategically at the time of default leading to deviations from the absolute priority rule. The analysis demonstrates that investor protection is a first order determinant of firms' financing choices and that conflicts of interests between firm claimholders may help explain the level and cross-sectional variation of observed leverage ratios. The second essay focuses on the practical relevance of agency conflicts. De- spite the theoretical development of the literature on agency conflicts and firm policy choices, the magnitude of manager-shareholder conflicts is still an open question. This essay proposes a methodology for quantifying these agency conflicts. To do so, it examines the impact of managerial entrenchment on corporate financing decisions. It builds a dynamic contingent claims model in which managers do not act in the best interest of shareholders, but rather pursue private benefits at the expense of shareholders. Managers have discretion over financing and dividend policies. However, shareholders can remove the manager at a cost. The analysis demonstrates that entrenched managers restructure less frequently and issue less debt than optimal for shareholders. I take the model to the data and use observed financing choices to provide firm-specific estimates of the degree of managerial entrenchment. Using structural econometrics, I find costs of control challenges of 2-7% on average (.8-5% at median). The estimates of the agency costs vary with variables that one expects to determine managerial incentives. In addition, these costs are sufficient to resolve the low- and zero-leverage puzzles and explain the time series of observed leverage ratios. Finally, the analysis shows that governance mechanisms significantly affect the value of control and firms' financing decisions. The third essay is concerned with the documented time trend in corporate cash holdings by Bates, Kahle and Stulz (BKS,2003). BKS find that firms' cash holdings double from 10% to 20% over the 1980 to 2005 period. This essay provides an explanation of this phenomenon by examining the effects of product market competition on firms' cash holdings in the presence of financial constraints. It develops a real options model in which cash holdings may be used to cover unexpected operating losses and avoid inefficient closure. The model generates new predictions relating cash holdings to firm and industry characteristics such as the intensity of competition, cash flow volatility, or financing constraints. The empirical examination of the model shows strong support of model's predictions. In addition, it shows that the time trend in cash holdings documented by BKS can be at least partly attributed to a competition effect.
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