Optimal debt contracts and product market competition with exit and entry
We show how competition in oligopolies, with the possibility of failure and exit of a levered incumbent, affects the ex-ante design of optimal debt contracts. When a levered firm's profits are unobservable, a debt contract imposes the threat of nonrenewal to induce truthful revelation. Because nonrenewal impacts the future profitability of the surviving competitor, the contract influences the competitor's pricing strategy and the equilibrium profits of both firms. The optimal contract is quite different from a standard debt contract, and induces the competitor to be less aggressive, resulting in higher equilibrium prices and profits, and higher returns for investors.
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