Multiple Bank Relationships and the Main Bank System: Evidence from a Matched Sample of Japanese Small Firms and Main Banks
Based on a matched sample of Japanese small firms and main banks, we investigate bank-firm relationships in the early 2000s. We obtain some remarkable new findings. First, small firms have multiple bank relationships even though they have their main bank relations. Second, firms tied with financially weak main banks increase their number of bank relations to diversify liquidity risk. Third, the duration of a main bank relation has a positive effect on the number of bank relations. This is interpreted as either a reputation effect or firms' counterbalance actions against the monopoly power of main banks. To go further into this issue, we examine the effects of a main bank relation on the design of loan contracts. We find that firms with fewer bank relations tend to pledge personal guarantees to their main banks and are charged a higher interest rate. Our evidence lends support for the hypothesis of monopoly exploitation by main banks.
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