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Ownership structure and debt leverage: Empirical test of a trade-off hypothesis on French firms

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  • de La Bruslerie, Hubert
  • Latrous, Imen

Abstract

Debt may help to manage type II corporate agency conflicts because it is easier for controlling shareholders to modify the leverage ratio than to modify their share of capital. A sample of 112 firms listed on the French stock market over the period 1998–2009 is empirically tested. It supports an inverted U-shape relationship between shareholders’ ownership and leverage. At low levels of ownership, controlling shareholders use more debt in order to inflate their stake in capital and to resist unfriendly takeovers attempts. When ownership reaches a certain point, controlling shareholders’ objectives further converge with those of outside shareholders. Moreover, financial distress will prompt controlling shareholders to reduce the firm's leverage ratio. Empirically, it is shown that the inflection point where the sign of the relationship between ownership and debt changes is around 40%. Debts may help in curbing private appropriation and appears also as a governance variable.

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  • de La Bruslerie, Hubert & Latrous, Imen, 2012. "Ownership structure and debt leverage: Empirical test of a trade-off hypothesis on French firms," Journal of Multinational Financial Management, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 111-130.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:mulfin:v:22:y:2012:i:4:p:111-130
    DOI: 10.1016/j.mulfin.2012.06.001
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Corporate governance; Private benefits; Controlling shareholders; Debt leverage;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • G3 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance
    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
    • G34 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Mergers; Acquisitions; Restructuring; Corporate Governance

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