Ownership concentration and market discipline in European banking: Good monitoring but bad influence?
We investigate the impact of banks’ ownership concentration on the effectiveness of shareholders’ market discipline. More precisely, we first assess whether the ability of the distance to default to predict banks’ financial distress is affected by the level of ownership concentration (“monitoring” hypothesis). We also assess whether banks’ future financial situation is directly affected by ownership concentration (“influence” hypothesis). Our econometric estimates are conducted on a panel of 77 European banks observed between the first quarter of 1997 and the last quarter of 2005. We find that ownership dispersion reduces the predictive power of the distance to default. The data collected come from three sources: Bankscope, Datastream and Thomson One Banker Ownership. The econometric methodology is based on simple pooled-logit estimates corrected for the clustering effect. Several tests are then conducted to assess the robustness of the results. We also recall that theoretical results do exist to explain why banks’ ownership structure can alter market discipline and the ability of market-derived indicators to predict future financial distresses. This work finally suggests that the empirical literature dealing with market discipline should not focus only on the moral hazard potentially created by bad insurance deposit design, balance sheet opacity or the safety net: the evolution of banks ownership structure might also be an important prudential issue.
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