Do Chinese publicly listed companies adjust their capital structure toward a target level?
We study the determinants of capital structure for 650 Chinese publicly listed companies over the period from 1999 to 2004. We posit that a firm's decision on capital structure is inherently dynamic, and estimate the resulting dynamic capital structure model. The main findings of the paper are as follows: (i) Chinese firms adjust toward an equilibrium level of debt ratio in a given year at a very slow rate; (ii) firm size, tangibility and state shareholdings are positively associated with firm's leverage ratio, while profitability, non-debt tax shields, growth and volatility are negatively related to firm's leverage ratio; (iii) lagged profitability has a negligibly small and positive impact on firm's leverage ratio; (iv) for a firm experiencing a large reduction in its leverage ratio only about 11% of the discrepancy between its desired and actual leverage level is eliminated within a year (compared to more than 18% for full firm sample); (v) extending the basic model to allow for both the target level and the speed of adjustment to be endogenously determined, we find that Chinese firms tend to adjust faster if they are farther away from the equilibrium leverage level; and lastly (vi) extending the sample period to cover the earlier periods starting from 1993, when the Chinese stock markets were first developed, results in a slower speed of adjustment for firms in the below target sample.
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