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HFRC Working Paper Series

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Alle Working Papers

Capital Structure

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.

Capital allocation and ownership concentration in the shipping industry

Wolfgang Drobetz, Malte Janzen, Ignacio Requejo
Transportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review | 02/2019
We measure the sensitivity of investment to changes in investment opportunities in the shipping industry, and test whether this relation is moderated by ownership concentration. For a sample of 126 globally listed shipping firms, we find that investment in commercial shipping follows freight rates, a measure of the potential income stream from owning a vessel. Ownership concentration, measured as the ownership stake of the largest shareholder, reinforces the positive effect of freight rates on investment, indicating a higher relative efficiency of capital allocation. The positive impact ownership has on the investment-freight rate sensitivity also translates into higher firm value. An analysis of investor identity shows that our results are driven by the group of firms where the largest owner is a financial investor, who is usually more focused on shareholder value maximization.

Cyclicality of growth opportunities and the value of cash holdings

Meike Ahrends, Wolfgang Drobetz, Tatjana Xenia Puhan
Journal of Financial Stability | 08/2018
We show that business cycle dynamics and, in particular, the cyclicality of a firm’s growth opportunities, determine the value of corporate cash holdings. An additional dollar of cash is more valuable for firms with less procyclical expansion opportunities. This valuation effect is strongest for low leverage and high R&D firms, but is independent of their financial status. Corporate cash holdings provide the flexibility to invest for firms that have expansion opportunities during crisis times with business cycle downturns and supply-side financial constraints. Cash holdings in firms with less procyclical growth opportunities are associated with higher investment and better operating performance.

Global cash flow sensitivities

Wolfgang Drobetz, Simon Döring, Malte Janzen, Iwan Meier
Finance Research Letters | 06/2018
We examine the role of a country's institutional framework for investment and financing activities. A country's financial structure, investor rights, and legal environment are important determinants of the relation between cash flow and firms’ investment and financing behavior. Firms from countries with a stronger institutional framework exhibit higher financing-cash flow sensitivities. These firms are more likely to substitute a cash flow shortfall with issuing equity. Conversely, investment-cash flow sensitivities are higher for firms in countries with a weaker institutional framework.

Corporate cash holdings in the shipping industry

Meike Ahrends, Wolfgang Drobetz, Nikos K. Nomikos
Transportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review | 04/2018
We examine the corporate cash holdings of listed shipping companies. Shipping firms hold more cash than similar firms in other asset-heavy industries. Higher cash holdings in the shipping industry are not attributable to firm- or country-level characteristics, but rather to the higher marginal value of cash. Shipping firms value an additional dollar of cash higher than matched manufacturing firms, regardless of their financial constraints status, but depending on their cultural background and the cyclicality of their expansion opportunities. Less procyclical shipping firms have a higher marginal value of cash, and this valuation effect is most pronounced in bad times of the business cycle when external capital supply tends to become scarce. Overall, it appears that shipping companies are more conservative than their peers in managing their cash positions.

Cash flow sensitivities during normal and crisis times: Evidence from shipping

Wolfgang Drobetz, Rebekka Haller, Iwan Meier
Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice | 08/2016
Using a system of equations model, we analyze how cash flow shocks influence the investment and financing decisions of shipping firms in different economic environments. Even financially healthy shipping firms felt strong negative effects on their financing activities during the recent crisis. These firms were nevertheless able to increase long-term debt. Banks internalized the impact of foreclosure decisions on vessel prices and avoided an industry-wide collateral channel effect. Even during benign economic conditions, financially weak shipping firms underinvest because of their inability to raise sufficient external capital. The substitution between long- and short-term debt during the pre-2008 crisis periods shows that the composition of financing sources is more indicative of whether firms face financial constraints than the pure size of the financing-cash flow sensitivities. An analysis of firms’ excess cash holdings confirms the importance of financial flexibility.

Heterogeneity in the speed of capital structure adjustment across countries and over the business cycle

Wolfgang Drobetz, Dirk C. Schilling, Henning Schröder
European Financial Management | 11/2015
This study analyses the heterogeneity in the speed of capital structure adjustment. Using a doubly‐censored Tobit estimator that accounts for mechanical mean reversion in leverage ratios, the speed of adjustment is 25% per year in a large international sample, supporting the economic relevance of the trade‐off theory. Differences in the adjustment speed across financial systems are attributable to differences in the costs of adjustment. Macroeconomic and micro‐level supply‐side constraints also affect the dynamics of leverage. Firms adjust more slowly during recessions, and the business cycle effect on adjustment speed is most pronounced for financially constrained firms in market‐based countries.

Capital structure decisions of globally-listed shipping companies

Wolfgang Drobetz, Dimitrios Gounopoulos, Andreas Merikas, Henning Schröder
Transportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review | 06/2013
Debt capital has traditionally been the most important source of external finance in the shipping industry. The access that shipping companies nowadays have to the capital markets provides them with a broader range of financing instruments. As such, this study investigates the determinants of capital structure decisions using a sample of 115 exchange-listed shipping companies. We test whether listed shipping companies follow a target capital structure, and we analyze their adjustment dynamics after deviations from this target leverage ratio. When compared with industrial firms from the G7 countries, shipping companies exhibit higher leverage ratios and higher financial risk. Standard capital structure variables exert a significant impact on the cross-sectional variation of leverage ratios in the shipping industry. Asset tangibility is positively related to corporate leverage, and its economic impact is more pronounced than in other industries. Profitability, asset risk, and operating leverage are all inversely related to leverage. There is only weak evidence for market-timing behavior of shipping companies. Because demand and supply in the maritime industry are closely related to the macroeconomic environment, leverage behaves counter-cyclically. Using different dynamic panel estimators, we further document that the speed of adjustment after deviations from the target leverage ratio is lower during economic recessions. On average, however, the capital structure adjustment speed in the maritime industry is higher compared with the G7 benchmark sample. These findings indicate that there are substantial costs of deviation from the target leverage ratio due to high expected costs of financial distress. Our results have implications for shipping companies’ risk management activities.

Corporate cash holdings: Evidence from Switzerland

Wolfgang Drobetz, Matthias C. Grüninger
Financial Markets and Portfolio Management | 09/2007
This paper investigates the determinants of cash holdings for a comprehensive sample of Swiss non-financial firms between 1995 and 2004. The median Swiss firm holds almost twice as much cash and cash equivalents as the median US or UK firm. Our results indicate that asset tangibility and firm size are both negatively related to corporate cash holdings, and that there is a non-linear relationship between the leverage ratio and liquidity. Dividend payments and operating cash flows are positively related to cash reserves, but we cannot detect a significant relationship between growth opportunities and cash holdings. Most of these empirical findings, but not all of them, can be explained by the transaction costs motive and/or the precautionary motive. Analyzing the corporate governance structures of Swiss firms, we document a non-linear relationship between managerial ownership and cash holdings, indicating an incentive alignment effect and an opposing effect related to increasing risk aversion. Finally, our results suggest that firms in which the CEO simultaneously serves as the COB hold significantly more cash.

What determines the speed of adjustment to the target capital structure?

Wolfgang Drobetz, Gabrielle Wanzenried
Applied Financial Economics | 09/2006
A dynamic adjustment model and panel methodology are used to investigate the determinants of a time varying target capital structure. Because firms may temporarily deviate from their target capital structure in the presence of adjustment costs, the adjustment process is also endogenized. Specifically, we analyse the impact of firm-specific characteristics as well as macroeconomic factors on the speed of adjustment to the target debt ratio. The sample comprises a panel of 90 Swiss firms over the years from 1991 to 2001. We document that faster growing firms and those that are further away from their optimal capital structure adjust more readily. The results also reveal interesting interrelations between the adjustment speed and well-known business cycle variables. Most important, the speed of adjustment is higher when the term spread is higher and when economic prospects are good.