Corporate Finance

Schwerpunkte der Forschungsgruppe Corporate Finance sind das Verhalten und der Einfluss von institutionellen Investoren im Unternehmenskontext, die Unternehmensbewertung und die Kapitalstruktur.

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Ausgewählte Publikationen

Foreign bias in institutional portfolio allocation: The role of social trust

Wolfgang Drobetz, Marwin Mönkemeyer, Ignacio Requejo, Henning Schröder
HFRC Working Paper Series | Version 05/2022
Using a large sample of institutionally managed portfolios, we study the role of social trust in the equity allocations of 8,088 investors from 33 countries over the 2000-2017 period. The negative relation between social trust and foreign bias suggests that institutional investors from high-social trust countries are less prone to underinvesting in foreign equity. Our results provide credence to an information-based explanation, indicating that social trust reduces foreign bias by compensating the lack of information about foreign markets. The negative relation between social trust and foreign bias does not hold unconditionally, but only relates to host countries with weak formal institutional frameworks. The informal institution of social trust can offset the lack of formal country-level institutions in international portfolio decisions. Social trust helps investors accomplish greater cross-country portfolio diversification.

Decentralized finance, crypto funds, and value creation in tokenized firms

Douglas Cumming, Niclas Dombrowski, Wolfgang Drobetz, Paul P. Momtaz
HFRC Working Paper Series | Version 05/2022
Crypto Funds (CFs) represent a novel investor type in entrepreneurial finance. CFs intermediate Decentralized Finance (DeFi) markets by pooling contributions from crowd-investors and investing in tokenized startups, combining sophisticated venture- and hedge-style investment strategies. We compile a unique dataset combining token-based crowdfunding (or Initial Coin Offerings, ICOs) data with proprietary performance data of CFs. CF-backed startup ventures obtain higher ICO valuations, outperform their peers in the long run, and benefit from token price appreciation around CF investment disclosure in the secondary market. Moreover, CFs beat the market by roughly 2.5% per month. Their outperformance is persistent, suggesting that CFs deliver abnormal returns because of skill, rather than luck. These performance effects for CFs and CF-backed startups are driven by a fund’s investor network centrality. Overall, our study paves the way for research on what some refer to as the “crypto fund revolution” in entrepreneurial finance.

Institutional investment horizons, corporate governance, and credit ratings: International evidence

Hamdi Driss, Wolfgang Drobetz, Sadok El Ghoul, Omrane Guedhami
HFRC Working Paper Series | Version 01/2021
Using a comprehensive set of firms from 57 countries over the 2000–2016 period, we examine the relation between institutional investor horizons and firm-level credit ratings. Controlling for firm- and country-specific factors, as well as for firm fixed effects, we find that larger long-term (short-term) institutional ownership is associated with higher (lower) credit ratings. This finding is robust to sample composition, alternative estimation methods, and endogeneity concerns. Long-term institutional ownership affects ratings more during times of higher expropriation risk, for firms with weaker internal governance, and for those in countries with lower-quality institutional environments. Additional analysis shows that long-term investors can facilitate access to debt markets for firms facing severe agency problems. These findings suggest that, unlike their short-term counterparts, long-term investors can improve a firm’s credit risk profile through effective monitoring.

Institutional ownership and firm performance in the global shipping industry

Wolfgang Drobetz, Sebastian Ehlert, Henning Schröder
Transportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review | 01/2021 | Forthcoming
We examine the effect of institutional investors on the valuation of listed shipping firms. Institutional investors have a positive influence on the market value of shipping firms, confirming that institutional ownership is a “universal” corporate governance mechanism. This valuation effect is more pronounced in firms dominated by institutional investors with a short-term investment horizon. It is also stronger in firms with high stock liquidity, suggesting that short-term investors, through the threat of exit, are able to mitigate agency conflicts and improve corporate governance. Investment regressions indicate that shipping firms with a larger fraction of short-term investors are better able to exploit growth opportunities.

The economics of law enforcement: Quasi-experimental evidence from corporate takeover law

Gishan Dissanaike, Wolfgang Drobetz, Paul P. Momtaz, Jörg Rocholl
Journal of Corporate Finance | 12/2020 | Forthcoming
This paper examines the impact of takeover law enforcement on corporate acquisitions. We use the European Takeover Directive as a natural experiment, which harmonizes takeover law across countries, while leaving its enforcement to the discretion of individual countries. We exploit this heterogeneity in enforcement quality across countries in a difference-in-differences-in-differences model, while employing an overall inductive research approach, following Karpoff and Whittry’s (2018) recommendation. We find that acquirer returns increase in countries with improvements in takeover law, driven by better target selection and lower cost of financing. The increase in acquirer returns is lower in weak enforcement jurisdictions, which we identify by developing a novel Takeover Law Enforcement Index (TLEI). The findings show that takeover law can mitigate agency conflicts, but its true value depends on its enforcement. Our results are strongly robust to alternative model specifications.

Policy uncertainty, investment, and the cost of capital

Wolfgang Drobetz, Sadok El Ghoul, Omrane Guedhami, Malte Janzen
Journal of Financial Stability | 11/2020
We examine the effect of economic policy uncertainty on the relation between investment and the cost of capital. Using the news-based index developed by Baker et al. (2016) for twenty-one countries, we find that the strength of the negative relation between investment and the cost of capital decreases during times of high economic policy uncertainty. An increase in policy uncertainty reduces the sensitivity of investment to the cost of capital most for firms operating in industries that depend strongly on government subsidies and government consumption as well as in countries with high state ownership. Consistent with the price informativeness channel, we find that an increase in policy uncertainty reduces the investment-cost of capital sensitivity for firms from more opaque countries, firms with low analyst coverage, firms with no credit rating, and small firms. We conclude that economic policy uncertainty distorts the fundamental relation between investment and the cost of capital.

Institutional investment horizons and firm valuation around the world

Wolfgang Drobetz, Simon Döring, Sadok El Ghoul, Omrane Guedhami, Henning Schröder
Journal of International Business Studies | 09/2020 | Forthcoming
Using a comprehensive dataset of firms from 34 countries, we study the effect of institutional investors’ investment horizons on firm valuation around the world. We find a positive relation between institutional ownership and firm value that is driven by short-horizon institutional investors. Accounting for the interaction between investors’ investment horizon and nationality, we show that foreign short-horizon institutions, which are more likely to discipline managers through the threat of exit rather than engaging in monitoring made costly by the liability of foreignness, are the investor group with the strongest effect on firm value. Reinforcing the threat of exit channel, we find that the value-enhancing effect of short-horizon investors is stronger in the presence of multiple short-horizon investors, who are more likely to engage in competitive trading. The positive valuation effect of short-horizon investors is stronger when stock liquidity is high, which makes the exit threat more credible, and in firms prone to free cash flow agency problems. Overall, our results are consistent with short-horizon institutional investors, especially foreign institutional owners, affecting firm value by disciplining managers through a credible threat of exit.

Cross-country determinants of institutional investors’ investment horizons

Wolfgang Drobetz, Simon Döring, Sadok El Ghoul, Omrane Guedhami, Henning Schröder
Finance Research Letters | 06/2020 | Forthcoming
Using a large dataset of firms from 35 countries, we study the country-level determinants of institutional investors’ investment horizons. We show that an equity investor-friendly institutional environment is more important for long-term investors, while short-term investors seem to be less concerned about the quality of the financial and legal environment. Beyond the financial and legal structure, the cultural environment and economic policy uncertainty in a country are other important determinants of investor horizons. These findings improve our understanding of cross-country differences in the corporate governance role, i.e., engagement vs. exit, of institutional investors.