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Conglomeration with bankruptcy costs: Separate or joint financing?

The paper analyzes the determinants of the optimal scope of incorporation in the presence of bankruptcy costs. Bankruptcy costs alone generate a non-trivial tradeoff between the benefit of coinsurance and the cost of risk contamination associated to joint financing corporate projects through debt. This tradeoff is characterized for projects with binary returns, depending on the distributional characteristics of returns (mean, variability, skewness, heterogeneity, correlation, and number of projects), the bankruptcy recovery rate, and the tax rate advantage of debt relative to equity. Our testable predictions are broadly consistent with existing empirical evidence on conglomerate mergers, spin-offs, project finance, and securitization.

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File URL: http://www.econ.upf.edu/docs/papers/downloads/1191.pdf
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Paper provided by Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra in its series Economics Working Papers with number 1191.

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Date of creation: Feb 2009
Date of revision: Jul 2010
Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:1191
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.econ.upf.edu/

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  1. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 1997. "Default and Renegotiation: A Dynamic Model of Debt," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1792, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  2. Gary Gorton & Nicholas Souleles, 2005. "Special Purpose Vehicles and Securitization," NBER Working Papers 11190, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Roman Inderst & Holger M. Müller, 2003. "Internal versus External Financing: An Optimal Contracting Approach," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 58(3), pages 1033-1062, 06.
  4. Levy, Haim & Sarnat, Marshall, 1970. "Diversification, Portfolio Analysis and the Uneasy Case for Conglomerate Mergers," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 25(4), pages 795-802, September.
  5. Gale, Douglas & Hellwig, Martin, 1985. "Incentive-Compatible Debt Contracts: The One-Period Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(4), pages 647-63, October.
  6. Scott, James H, Jr, 1977. "On the Theory of Conglomerate Mergers," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 32(4), pages 1235-50, September.
  7. Bolton, Patrick & Scharfstein, David S, 1990. "A Theory of Predation Based on Agency Problems in Financial Contracting," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 93-106, March.
  8. Lewellen, Wilbur G, 1971. "A Pure Financial Rationale for the Conglomerate Merger," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 26(2), pages 521-37, May.
  9. Weiss, Lawrence A., 1990. "Bankruptcy resolution: Direct costs and violation of priority of claims," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 285-314, October.
  10. 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.
  11. Sherrill Shaffer, 1989. "Pooling intensifies joint failure risk," Working Papers 89-1, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  12. Altman, Edward I, 1984. " A Further Empirical Investigation of the Bankruptcy Cost Question," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 39(4), pages 1067-89, September.
  13. Kim, E Han & McConnell, John J, 1977. "Corporate Mergers and the Co-insurance of Corporate Debt," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 32(2), pages 349-65, May.
  14. Alderson, Michael J. & Betker, Brian L., 1995. "Liquidation costs and capital structure," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 45-69, September.
  15. Hayne E. Leland, 2007. "Financial Synergies and the Optimal Scope of the Firm: Implications for Mergers, Spinoffs, and Structured Finance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 62(2), pages 765-807, 04.
  16. Warner, Jerold B, 1977. "Bankruptcy Costs: Some Evidence," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 32(2), pages 337-47, May.
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