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Corporate Diversification and Agency

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  • Hermalin, Benjamin E.
  • Katz, Michael

Abstract

Firms undertake a variety of actions to reduce risk through diversification, including entering diverse lines of business, taking on project partners, and maintaining portfolios of risky projects such as R&D or natural resource exploration. By a well-known argument, securities holders do not directly benefit from risk-reducing corporate diversification when they can replicate this diversification on their own. Moreover, shareholders should be risk neutral with respect to the unsystematic risk that is associated with many research projects. Some have argued that corporate risk reduction may be of value, or can otherwise be explained by, the agency relationship between securities holders and managers. We argue that the value of diversification strategies in an agency relationship derives not from its effects on risk, but rather from its effects on the principal's information about the agent's actions. We demonstrate by example that diversification activities may increase or decrease the principal's information, depending on the particular structure of the activity

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Research Program in Finance, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley in its series Research Program in Finance, Working Paper Series with number qt0p34c640.

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Date of creation: 02 Jan 2000
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Handle: RePEc:cdl:rpfina:qt0p34c640

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Keywords: diversification; principal-agent relationship;

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References

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  1. Levy, Haim & Sarnat, Marshall, 1970. "Diversification, Portfolio Analysis and the Uneasy Case for Conglomerate Mergers," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 25(4), pages 795-802, September.
  2. DeMarzo, Peter M & Duffie, Darrell, 1995. "Corporate Incentives for Hedging and Hedge Accounting," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 8(3), pages 743-71.
  3. James A. Mirrlees, 1976. "The Optimal Structure of Incentives and Authority Within an Organization," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 7(1), pages 105-131, Spring.
  4. Diamond, Douglas W & Verrecchia, Robert E, 1982. " Optimal Managerial Contracts and Equilibrium Security Prices," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 37(2), pages 275-87, May.
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  6. Benjamin Hermalin., 1991. "Managerial Preferences Concerning Risky Projects," Economics Working Papers 91-168, University of California at Berkeley.
  7. Grossman, Sanford J & Hart, Oliver D, 1983. "An Analysis of the Principal-Agent Problem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(1), pages 7-45, January.
  8. Randall Morck & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1989. "Do Managerial Objectives Drive Bad Acquisitions?," NBER Working Papers 3000, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Smith, Clifford W. & Stulz, René M., 1985. "The Determinants of Firms' Hedging Policies," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 20(04), pages 391-405, December.
  10. Hermalin, Benjamin E. & Katz, Michael L., 1990. "Moral Hazard and Verifiability: The Effects of Renegotiation in Agency," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt1678w3w9, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  11. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1991. "Multitask Principal-Agent Analyses: Incentive Contracts, Asset Ownership, and Job Design," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(0), pages 24-52, Special I.
  12. Steven Shavell, 1979. "Risk Sharing and Incentives in the Principal and Agent Relationship," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 10(1), pages 55-73, Spring.
  13. Debra J. Aron, 1988. "Ability, Moral Hazard, Firm Size, and Diversification," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 19(1), pages 72-87, Spring.
  14. Harris, Milton & Raviv, Artur, 1990. " Capital Structure and the Informational Role of Debt," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 45(2), pages 321-49, June.
  15. Bengt Holmstrom, 1997. "Moral Hazard and Observability," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1205, David K. Levine.
  16. Diamond, Douglas W, 1984. "Financial Intermediation and Delegated Monitoring," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(3), pages 393-414, July.
  17. Kim, Son Ku, 1995. "Efficiency of an Information System in an Agency Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(1), pages 89-102, January.
  18. Lewellen, Wilbur & Loderer, Claudio & Rosenfeld, Ahron, 1989. "Mergers, Executive Risk Reduction, and Stockholder Wealth," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 24(04), pages 459-472, December.
  19. Lewellen, Wilbur G, 1971. "A Pure Financial Rationale for the Conglomerate Merger," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 26(2), pages 521-37, May.
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  21. Errunza, Vihang R & Senbet, Lemma W, 1984. " International Corporate Diversification, Market Valuation, and Size-Adjusted Evidence," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 39(3), pages 727-43, July.
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Cited by:
  1. Andriosopoulos, Dimitris & Andriosopoulos, Kostas & Hoque, Hafiz, 2013. "Information disclosure, CEO overconfidence, and share buyback completion rates," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(12), pages 5486-5499.
  2. Nancy L. Rose & Andrea Shepard, 1997. "Firm Diversification and CEO Compensation: Managerial Ability or Executive Entrenchment?," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 28(3), pages 489-514, Autumn.
  3. Enrico Perotti & Ernst-Ludwig von Thadden, 2002. "The Political Economy of Bank- and Market Dominance," Cahiers de Recherches Economiques du Département d'Econométrie et d'Economie politique (DEEP) 02.14, Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP, revised Apr 2003.
  4. Perotti, Enrico C & von Thadden, Ernst-Ludwig, 2003. "The Political Economy of Bank and Equity Dominance," CEPR Discussion Papers 3914, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Felipe Balmaceda, 2002. "Corporate Diversification: Good for Some Bad for Others," Documentos de Trabajo 141, Centro de Economía Aplicada, Universidad de Chile.
  6. Claessens, Stijn & Djankov, Simeon & Joseph P. H. Fan & Lang, Larry H. P., 1999. "Corporate diversification in East Asia : the role of ultimate ownership and group affiliation," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2089, The World Bank.

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