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Optimal Debt Design and the Role of Bankruptcy

  • Ernst-Ludwig VON THADDEN
  • Erik BERGLÖF
  • Gérard ROLAND

This paper integrates the problem of designing corporate bankruptcy rules into a theory of optimal debt structure. We show that, in an incomplete-contracts framework with imperfect renegotiation, having multiple creditors increases a firm's debt capacity while increasing its incentives to default strategically. The optimal debt contract gives creditors claims that are jointly inconsistent in case of default. Bankruptcy rules, therefore, are a necessary part of the overall financing contract, to make claims consistent and to prevent a value reducing run for the assets of the firm. It is not optimal to treat creditors asymmetrically in default, but creditors may be protected by different security rights.

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File URL: http://www.hec.unil.ch/deep/textes/03.13.pdf
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Paper provided by Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP in its series Cahiers de Recherches Economiques du Département d'Econométrie et d'Economie politique (DEEP) with number 03.13.

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Length: 44 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:lau:crdeep:03.13
Contact details of provider: Postal: Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP, Internef, CH-1015 Lausanne
Phone: ++41 21 692.33.64
Fax: ++41 21 692.33.05
Web page: http://www.hec.unil.ch/deep/publications/cahiers/series
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  1. Francesca Cornelli & Leonardo Felli, . "Revenue Efficiency and Change of Control: The Case of Bankruptcy," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 18-98, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
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  6. Detragiache, E. & Garella, P.G., 1996. "Debt Restructuring with Multiple Creditors and the Role of Exchange Offers," Papers 261, Banca Italia - Servizio di Studi.
  7. Berkovitch, Elazar & Israel, Ronen, 1999. "Optimal Bankruptcy Laws across Different Economic Systems," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 12(2), pages 347-77.
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  15. Townsend, Robert M., 1979. "Optimal contracts and competitive markets with costly state verification," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 265-293, October.
  16. Gilson, Stuart C, 1997. " Transactions Costs and Capital Structure Choice: Evidence from Financially Distressed Firms," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 52(1), pages 161-96, March.
  17. Ulrich Hege & Pierre Mella-Barral, 2005. "Repeated Dilution of Diffusely Held Debt," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 78(3), pages 737-786, May.
  18. Harris, Milton & Raviv, Artur, 1995. "The Role of Games in Security Design," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 8(2), pages 327-67.
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  21. Gilson, Stuart C. & John, Kose & Lang, Larry H. P., 1990. "Troubled debt restructurings*1: An empirical study of private reorganization of firms in default," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 315-353, October.
  22. Dewatripont, Mathias & Tirole, Jean, 1994. "A Theory of Debt and Equity: Diversity of Securities and Manager-Shareholder Congruence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(4), pages 1027-54, November.
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