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What Determines the Structure of Corporate Debt Issues?

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  • Brandon Julio
  • Woojin Kim
  • Michael Weisbach

Abstract

Publicly-traded debt securities differ on a number of dimensions, including quality, maturity, seniority, security, and convertibility. Finance research has provided a number of theories as to why firms should issue debt with different features; yet, there is very little empirical work testing these theories. We consider a sample of 14,867 debt issues in the U.S. between 1971 and 2004. Our goal is to test the implications of these theories, and, more generally, to establish a set of stylized facts regarding the circumstances under which firms issue different types of debt. Our results suggest that there are three main types of factors that affect the structure of debt issues: First, firm-specific factors such as leverage, growth opportunities and cash holdings are related with the convertibility, maturity and security structure of issued bonds. Second, economy-wide factors, in particular the state of the macroeconomy, affect the quality distribution of securities offered; in particular, during recessions, firms issue fewer poor quality bonds than in good times but similar numbers of high-quality bonds. Finally, controlling for firm characteristics and economy-wide factors, project specific factors appear to influence the types of securities that are issued. Consistent with commonly stated 'maturity-matching' arguments, long-term, nonconvertible bonds are more likely to be issued by firms investing in fixed assets, while convertible and short-term bonds are more likely to finance investment in R&D.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13706.

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Date of creation: Dec 2007
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13706

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  1. Barclay, Michael J & Smith, Clifford W, Jr, 1995. " The Priority Structure of Corporate Liabilities," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 50(3), pages 899-917, July.
  2. Barnea, Amir & Haugen, Robert A & Senbet, Lemma W, 1980. " A Rationale for Debt Maturity Structure and Call Provisions in the Agency Theoretic Framework," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 35(5), pages 1223-34, December.
  3. Heitor Almeida & Murillo Campello & Michael S. Weisbach, 2004. "The Cash Flow Sensitivity of Cash," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 59(4), pages 1777-1804, 08.
  4. Michael Faulkender & Mitchell A. Petersen, 2006. "Does the Source of Capital Affect Capital Structure?," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 19(1), pages 45-79.
  5. Bolton, Patrick & Scharfstein, David S, 1996. "Optimal Debt Structure and the Number of Creditors," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(1), pages 1-25, February.
  6. Heitor Almeida & Murillo Campello & Michael S. Weisbach, 2006. "Corporate Financial and Investment Policies when Future Financing is not Frictionless," NBER Working Papers 12773, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Hart, Oliver & Moore, John, 1994. "A Theory of Debt Based on the Inalienability of Human Capital," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(4), pages 841-79, November.
  8. Mayers, David, 1998. "Why firms issue convertible bonds: the matching of financial and real investment options," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 83-102, January.
  9. Korajczyk, Robert A. & Levy, Amnon, 2003. "Capital structure choice: macroeconomic conditions and financial constraints," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 75-109, April.
  10. Smith, Clifford Jr. & Warner, Jerold B., 1979. "On financial contracting : An analysis of bond covenants," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 117-161, June.
  11. Lamont, Owen, 1995. "Corporate-Debt Overhang and Macroeconomic Expectations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1106-17, December.
  12. Woojin Kim & Michael S. Weisbach, 2005. "Motivations for Public Equity Offers: An International Perspective," NBER Working Papers 11797, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Berger, Allen N. & Udell, Gregory F., 1990. "Collateral, loan quality and bank risk," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 21-42, January.
  14. Diamond, Douglas W, 1991. "Debt Maturity Structure and Liquidity Risk," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(3), pages 709-37, August.
  15. Myers, Stewart C., 1977. "Determinants of corporate borrowing," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(2), pages 147-175, November.
  16. Flannery, Mark J, 1986. " Asymmetric Information and Risky Debt Maturity Choice," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 41(1), pages 19-37, March.
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Cited by:
  1. Ulf Axelson & Per Strömberg & Michael S. Weisbach, 2009. "Why Are Buyouts Levered? The Financial Structure of Private Equity Funds," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 64(4), pages 1549-1582, 08.
  2. Woojin Kim & Michael S. Weisbach, 2005. "Motivations for Public Equity Offers: An International Perspective," NBER Working Papers 11797, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Lau, Sie Ting & Yu, Jing, 2010. "Does proximity matter in international bond underwriting?," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 34(9), pages 2027-2041, September.
  4. Hamadi FakhFakh & Rim Zouari-Hadiji, 2011. "Dettes financières et investissement en R&D:une étude comparative," Working Papers CREGO 1110302, Université de Bourgogne - CREGO EA7317 Centre de recherches en gestion des organisations.

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