Prior research suggests that the disclosure of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions—a primary cause of climate change—affects firm valuation. In this paper, we provide new insights into the determinants of the voluntary disclosure of GHG emissions. We show that board ancestral diversity has a positive and statistically significant effect on a firm’s scope and quality of voluntary GHG emission disclosure. This effect is robust to controlling for several other dimensions of board diversity as well as to addressing endogeneity and sample selection. Additional analysis suggests that board ancestral diversity has a higher impact on GHG emission disclosure in firms with low institutional ownership and high corporate complexity. We interpret these findings as consistent with the view that board diversity enhances monitoring and advising.
Sadok El Ghoul is a Professor of Business Administration at Campus Saint-Jean of the University of Alberta, where he teaches finance, international business and econometrics. He received his B.B.A. from Institut Supérieur de Gestion de Tunis and his M.B.A. and Ph.D. from Laval University. Before joining the University of Alberta, he taught international financial management at Laval University. His research interests include corporate finance, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, international finance, financial institutions, and the role of culture in financial markets. His work has been published in finance, management, international business, business ethics and accounting journals such as Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Review of Finance, Management Science, Journal of International Business Studies, Journal of Business Ethics, The Accounting Review and Contemporary Accounting Research. Prof. El Ghoul received the McCalla Professorship at the University of Alberta in 2013-2014. He has won several awards including the Moskowitz Prize for the Best Paper in Socially Responsible Investing in 2011, the best paper award in financial institutions at the Southwestern Finance Association conference in 2012, the Korea Development Bank outstanding paper award at the Conference on Asia–Pacific Financial Markets in 2013, the best paper award at the World Business Ethics Forum in 2016, and the best paper award in emerging economies research at the Academy of International Business meeting in 2018. In 2017, he received the Martha Cook Piper Research Prize, which recognizes two University of Alberta faculty members in the early stage of their careers.
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.
We examine the impact of foreign institutional shareholders on the prevalence of restrictive bond covenants using a sample of 959 Yankee bonds from 29 countries over the period 2001–2019. We find a significantly negative relation between foreign institutional ownership and debt covenants. This inverse relation is strongest for U.S. institutional ownership of foreign-issued Yankee bonds, and for covenants designed to mitigate such opportunistic behavior as claims dilution and wealth transfers. We also show that the inverse relation between U.S. institutional ownership and restrictive debt covenants is moderated by country- and firm-level variables related to corporate governance, information asymmetry, and agency costs of debt. Additional analyses show that U.S. institutional ownership has a significant pricing effect on Yankee bond investors by lowering the issuer’s cost of borrowing.
The disclosure of corporate environmental performance is an increasingly important element of a firm’s ethical behavior. We analyze how the legal origin of foreign institutional investors affects a firm’s voluntary carbon disclosure. Using a large sample of firms from 36 countries, we show that foreign institutional ownership from civil law countries improves the scope and quality of a firm’s greenhouse gas emissions reporting. This relation is robust to addressing endogeneity and selection biases. The effect is more pronounced in firms from non-climate-sensitized countries, for which the gap between firms’ environmental standards and investors’ environmental targets is potentially larger, and in less international firms. Firms with a higher level of voluntary carbon disclosure also exhibit higher valuations.
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.
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.
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.