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The (Self-)Funding of Intangibles

Author

Listed:
  • Robin Döttling

    (University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

  • Tomislav Ladika

    (University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

  • Enrico Perotti

    (University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

Abstract

In response to technological change, U.S. corporations have been investing more in intangible capital. This transformation is empirically associated with lower leverage and greater cash holdings, and commonly explained as a precautionary response to reduced debt capacity. We model how firms' payout and cash holding policies are affected by this shift. Our insight is that the creation of intangibles is largely achieved by human capital investment and requires lower upfront outlays. Firms can self-finance the retention of human capital by granting deferred equity compensation. Interestingly, retaining cash and repurchasing shares enhances the value of unvested equity, thereby facilitating retention and reducing equity dilution. Our empirical evidence confirms that firms with higher intangible investment have lower upfront investment needs. They make similar payouts as tangible investment firms, suggesting they are not on average more financially constrained. They also tend to grant more deferred equity and prioritize repurchases over dividends in particular when their stock volatility is high, in line with our model's predictions.

Suggested Citation

  • Robin Döttling & Tomislav Ladika & Enrico Perotti, 2016. "The (Self-)Funding of Intangibles," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 16-093/IV, Tinbergen Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:tin:wpaper:20160093
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Technological change; corporate leverage; cash holdings; human capital; intangible capital; equity grants; deferred equity; share vesting;

    JEL classification:

    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
    • G35 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Payout Policy
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods

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