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Accounting-Based Compensation and Debt Contracts


  • Li, Zhi

    (Chapman University)

  • Wang, Lingling

    (University of Connecticut)

  • Wruck, Karen H.

    (Ohio State University)


Adding accounting-based performance plans to management compensation packages influences borrowing costs and structure of corporate debt contracts. After granting long-term accounting-based incentive plans (LTAPs) to CEOs, firms pay lower spreads and have fewer restrictive covenants in new loans. Lenders impose fewer earnings-based covenants after firms adopt earnings-based LTAPs. Results are stronger for firms with high leverage or bankruptcy risk, and that are difficult for lenders to monitor. Results are robust to alternative borrowing cost measures, including new public bond spreads, credit ratings, and CDS spreads. Overall, evidence suggests that adding LTAPs to compensation packages helps align debtholder and shareholder interests.

Suggested Citation

  • Li, Zhi & Wang, Lingling & Wruck, Karen H., 2018. "Accounting-Based Compensation and Debt Contracts," Working Paper Series 2017-07, Ohio State University, Charles A. Dice Center for Research in Financial Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:ohidic:2017-07

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    JEL classification:

    • G30 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - General
    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods
    • M41 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Accounting - - - Accounting
    • M52 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Compensation and Compensation Methods and Their Effects

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