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Agency theory and trust ownership of shares


  • David Emanuel
  • Tony van Zijl


The problems of agency theory related to security valuation are normally discussed in the context of “owner-managers” and “outside shareholders”, and/or equity-holders and debt-holders. In this paper we discuss agency problems that emerge when there is only one shareholder (and no debt), but where the shareholder is a trust with separate income and capital beneficiaries. Trust ownership of this sort is not uncommon. The agency problems emerge as the two classes of beneficiaries have claims on cash flows that occur at different times, with income beneficiaries having claims until “capital” is transferred to the capital beneficiaries. The agency problems that are discussed are dividends, risk shifting, capital structure, cost capitalisation, and investment policy. In all cases agency problems arise, and in some respects the agency problems are more pervasive than in the more “orthodox” settings.

Suggested Citation

  • David Emanuel & Tony van Zijl, 2005. "Agency theory and trust ownership of shares," New Zealand Economic Papers, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 39(2), pages 195-207.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:nzecpp:v:39:y:2005:i:2:p:195-207
    DOI: 10.1080/00779950509558493

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