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Managerial Entrenchment and Capital Structure Decisions

Authors: Berger, Philip G.
Ofek, Eli
Yermack, David L.
Issue Date: Dec-1995
Series/Report no.: FIN-95-011
Abstract: We test the prediction that leverage is inversely associated with managerial entrenchment. We examine leverage levels and year-to-year changes for several hundred firms between 1984 and 1991. We find that leverage levels are positively related to CEO stock ownership and CEO stock option holdings, and negatively related to CEO tenure and board of directors size. While generally consistent with less entrenched CEOs pursuing more leverage, these results are subject to alternative interpretations. We therefore analyze year-to-year changes in leverage around exogenous shocks to corporate governance variables. We find that leverage increases after unsuccessful tender offers and “forced” CEO replacements, and under certain conditions after the arrival of major stockholders. These relations have greater magnitude when the sample is restricted to low-leverage firms, even when 80% of firms are defined as low-leverage. The results are consistent with decreases in entrenchment leading to increases in leverage, and with the majority of firms having less debt than optimal.
Appears in Collections:Finance Working Papers

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