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Optimal Financial Contracts for Large Investors: The Role of Lender Liability

  • Mitchell Berlin
  • Loretta J. Mester

Our paper explores the optimal financial contract for a large investor with potential control over a firm's investment decisions. We show that an optimally designed menu of claims for a large investor will include features resembling a U.S. version of lender liability doctrine, equitable subordination. This doctrine permits a firm's claimants to seek to subordinate a controlling investor's financial claim in bankruptcy court, but only under well-specified conditions. Specifically, we show that this doctrine allows a firm to strike an efficient balance between two concerns: (i) inducing the large investor to monitor, and (ii) limiting the influence costs that arise when claimants can challenge existing contracts in bankruptcy court. Our paper also provides a partial rationale for a financial system in which powerful creditors do not generally hold blended debt and equity claims.

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Paper provided by Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania in its series Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers with number 99-33.

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Date of creation: Apr 2000
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wop:pennin:99-33
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