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Dividend policy, creditor rights, and the agency costs of debt

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  • Brockman, Paul
  • Unlu, Emre
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    Abstract

    We show that country-level creditor rights influence dividend policies around the world by establishing the balance of power between debt and equity claimants. Creditors demand and managers consent to a more restrictive payout policy as a substitute for weak creditor rights in an effort to minimize the firm's agency costs of debt. Using a sample of 120,507 firm-years from 52 countries, we find that both the probability and amount of dividend payouts are significantly lower in countries with poor creditor rights. A reduction in the creditor rights index from its highest value to its lowest value implies a 41% reduction in the probability of paying a dividend, and a 60% reduction in dividend payout ratios. These results are robust to numerous control variables, sample variations, model specifications, and alternative hypotheses. We also show that the agency costs of debt play a more decisive role in determining dividend policies than the previously documented agency costs of equity. Overall, our findings contribute to the growing literature arguing that creditors exert significant influence over corporate decision-making outside of bankruptcy.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Financial Economics.

    Volume (Year): 92 (2009)
    Issue (Month): 2 (May)
    Pages: 276-299

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:jfinec:v:92:y:2009:i:2:p:276-299

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505576

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    Keywords: Creditor rights Dividend policy Agency costs;

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    Cited by:
    1. Breuer, Wolfgang & Rieger, M. Oliver & Soypak, K. Can, 2014. "The behavioral foundations of corporate dividend policy a cross-country analysis," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 247-265.
    2. Pawan Jain & Quentin Chu, 2014. "Dividend clienteles: a global investigation," Review of Quantitative Finance and Accounting, Springer, vol. 42(3), pages 509-534, April.
    3. Gugler, Klaus & Ivanova, Natalia & Zechner, Josef, 2014. "Ownership and control in Central and Eastern Europe," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 26(C), pages 145-163.
    4. Mai Iskandar-Datta & Yonghong Jia, 2014. "Investor protection and corporate cash holdings around the world: new evidence," Review of Quantitative Finance and Accounting, Springer, vol. 43(2), pages 245-273, August.
    5. Houston, Joel F. & Lin, Chen & Lin, Ping & Ma, Yue, 2010. "Creditor rights, information sharing, and bank risk taking," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(3), pages 485-512, June.
    6. Bruce Seifert & Olubunmi Faleye & Halit Gonenc, 2012. "Creditor Rights, Country Governance, and Corporate Cash Holdings," Koç University-TUSIAD Economic Research Forum Working Papers 1214, Koc University-TUSIAD Economic Research Forum.
    7. Liu, Chunyan & Uchida, Konari & Yang, Yufeng, 2014. "Controlling shareholder, split-share structure reform and cash dividend payments in China," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 29(C), pages 339-357.
    8. Thomas O'Connor, 2012. "Dividend payout and corporate governance along the corporate life-cycle," Economics, Finance and Accounting Department Working Paper Series n228-12.pdf, Department of Economics, Finance and Accounting, National University of Ireland - Maynooth.
    9. Bulan, Laarni & Hull, Tyler, 2013. "The impact of technical defaults on dividend policy," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 814-823.
    10. Alzahrani, Mohammed & Lasfer, Meziane, 2012. "Investor protection, taxation, and dividends," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 18(4), pages 745-762.
    11. Cho, Seong-Soon & El Ghoul, Sadok & Guedhami, Omrane & Suh, Jungwon, 2014. "Creditor rights and capital structure: Evidence from international data," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 25(C), pages 40-60.
    12. Byrne, Julie & O’Connor, Thomas, 2012. "Creditor rights and the outcome model of dividends," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 227-242.
    13. Jun Jiang & Komain Jiranyakul, 2013. "Capital Structure, Cost of Debt and Dividend Payout of Firms in New York and Shanghai Stock Exchanges," International Journal of Economics and Financial Issues, Econjournals, vol. 3(1), pages 113-121.
    14. Thomas O'Connor & Julie Byrne, 2012. "Shareholder and creditor legal rights and the outcome model of dividends," Economics, Finance and Accounting Department Working Paper Series n225-12.pdf, Department of Economics, Finance and Accounting, National University of Ireland - Maynooth.

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