Foreign entry into underwriting services: evidence from Japan's "Big Bang" deregulation
We examine the impact of foreign underwriting activity on bond markets using issue level data in the Japanese "Samurai" and euro-yen bond markets. Firms choosing Japanese underwriters tend to be Japanese, riskier, and smaller. We find that Japanese underwriting fees, while higher overall on average, are actually lower after conditioning for issuer characteristics. Moreover, firms tend to sort properly in their choice of underwriter, in the sense that a switch in underwriter nationality would be predicted to result in an increase in underwriting fees. Finally, we conduct a matching exercise to examine the 1995 liberalization of foreign access to the "Samurai" bond market, using yen-denominated issues in the euro-yen market as a control. Foreign entry led to a statistically and economically significant decrease in underwriting fees in the Samurai bond market, as spreads fell by an average of 23 basis points. Overall, our results suggest that the market for underwriting services is partially segmented by nationality, as issuers appear to have preferred habitats, but entry increases market competition.
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