Law and Finance

This research group studies the role of corporate governance for firm value and policies, with a focus on firm-creditor relationships and legal institutions. We plan to investigate these issues along three lines of research. First, we look at how financial and legal innovations impact firm-creditor relationships. In a project, we examine how the possibility to hedge against credit risk on a firm’s debt through credit default swaps (CDS) may alter such relationships by reducing creditors’ incentives to monitor the firm. The second line of research explores theoretically and empirically how the dynamics of debtor-creditor conflicts shape managerial incentives, and how these in turn influence the firm's cost of debt. The third line of research relates to the role of the court system for firms. The outcome of a legal dispute has two main sources: The applicable laws and the courts that enforce them. We shed light on the role of courts in determining the impact of legal conflicts on firm value.

Research Cluster
Institutions and Social Norms

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Professor Stefano Colonnello, PhD
Professor Stefano Colonnello, PhD
Mitglied - Department Financial Markets
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Refereed Publications

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Bank Accounting Regulations, Enforcement Mechanisms, and Financial Statement Informativeness: Cross-country Evidence

Augustine Duru Iftekhar Hasan Liang Song Yijiang Zhao

in: Accounting and Business Research, forthcoming

Abstract

We construct measures of accounting regulations and enforcement mechanisms that are specific to a country's banking industry. Using a sample of major banks in 37 economies, we find that the informativeness of banks’ financial statements, measured by the value relevance of earnings and common equity, is higher in countries with stricter bank accounting regulations and countries with stronger enforcement. These findings suggest that superior bank accounting and enforcement mechanisms enhance the informativeness of banks’ financial statements. In addition, we find that the effects of bank accounting regulations are more pronounced in countries with stronger enforcement in the banking industry, suggesting that enforcement is complementary to bank accounting regulations in achieving higher value relevance of financial statements. Our study has important policy implications for bank regulators.

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Benchmark on Themselves: CEO-directors’ Influence on the CEO Compensation

Bill Francis Iftekhar Hasan Yun Zhu

in: Managerial Finance, forthcoming

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to examine whether or not the chief executive officers’ (CEO) compensation is affected by the compensation of the outside directors sitting on their board, who are also CEOs of other firms.

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Employee Treatment and Contracting with Bank Lenders: An Instrumental Approach for Stakeholder Management

Bill Francis Iftekhar Hasan Liuling Liu Haizhi Wang

in: Journal of Business Ethics, forthcoming

Abstract

Adopting an instrumental approach for stakeholder management, we focus on two primary stakeholder groups (employees and creditors) to investigate the relationship between employee treatment and loan contracts with banks. We find strong evidence that fair employee treatment reduces loan price and limits the use of financial covenants. In addition, we document that relationship bank lenders price both the levels and changes in the quality of employee treatment, whereas first-time bank lenders only care about the levels of fair employee treatment. Taking a contingency perspective, we find that industry competition and firm asset intangibility moderate the relationship between good human resource management and bank loan costs. The cost reduction effect of fair employee treatment is stronger for firms operating in a more competitive industry and having higher levels of intangible assets.

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Does It Pay to Get Connected? An Examination of Bank Alliance Network and Bond Spread

Iftekhar Hasan Céline Meslier Amine Tarazi Mingming Zhou

in: Journal of Economics and Business, forthcoming

Abstract

This paper examines the effects of bank alliance network on bonds issued by European banks during the period 1990–2009. We construct six measures capturing different dimensions of banks’ network characteristics. In opposition to the results obtained for non-financial firms, our findings indicate that being part of a network does not create value for bank’s bondholders, indicating a dark side effect of strategic alliances in the banking sector. While being part of a network is perceived as a risk-increasing event by market participants, this negative perception is significantly lower for the larger banks, and, to a lesser extent, for the more profitable banks. Moreover, during crisis times, the positive impact on bond spread of a bank’s higher centrality or of a bank’s higher connectedness in the network is stronger, indicating that market participants may fear spillover effects within the network during periods of banks’ heightened financial fragility.

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Lock‐in Effects in Relationship Lending: Evidence from DIP Loans

Iftekhar Hasan Gabriel G. Ramírez Gaiyan Zhang

in: Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, forthcoming

Abstract

Do prior lending relationships result in pass‐through savings (lower interest rates) for borrowers, or do they lock in higher costs for borrowers? Theoretical models suggest that when borrowers experience greater information asymmetry, higher switching costs, and limited access to capital markets, they become locked into higher costs from their existing lenders. Firms in Chapter 11 seeking debtor‐in‐possession (DIP) financing often fit this profile. We investigate the presence of lock‐in effects using a sample of 348 DIP loans. We account for endogeneity using the instrument variable (IV) approach and the Heckman selection model and find consistent evidence that prior lending relationship is associated with higher interest costs and the effect is more severe for stronger existing relationships. Our study provides direct evidence that prior lending relationships do create a lock‐in effect under certain circumstances, such as DIP financing.

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Working Papers

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Firm-level Employment, Labour Market Reforms, and Bank Distress

Moritz Stieglitz Ralph Setzer

in: ECB Working Paper Series, No. 2334, 2019

Abstract

We explore the interaction between labour market reforms and financial frictions. Our study combines a new cross-country reform database on labour market reforms with matched firm-bank data for nine euro area countries over the period 1999 to 2013. While we find that labour market reforms are overall effective in increasing employment, restricted access to bank credit can undo up to half of long-term employment gains at the firm-level. Entrepreneurs without sufficient access to credit cannot reap the full benefits of more flexible employment regulation.

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Firm-level Employment, Labour Market Reforms, and Bank Distress

Ralph Setzer Moritz Stieglitz

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 15, 2019

Abstract

We explore the interaction between labour market reforms and financial frictions. Our study combines a new cross-country reform database on labour market reforms with matched firm-bank data for nine euro area countries over the period 1999 to 2013. While we find that labour market reforms are overall effective in increasing employment, restricted access to bank credit can undo up to half of long-term employment gains at the firm-level. Entrepreneurs without sufficient access to credit cannot reap the full benefits of more flexible employment regulation.

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Benign Neglect of Covenant Violations: Blissful Banking or Ignorant Monitoring?

Stefano Colonnello Michael Koetter Moritz Stieglitz

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 3, 2019

Abstract

Theoretically, bank‘s loan monitoring activity hinges critically on its capitalisation. To proxy for monitoring intensity, we use changes in borrowers‘ investment following loan covenant violations, when creditors can intervene in the governance of the firm. Exploiting granular bank-firm relationships observed in the syndicated loan market, we document substantial heterogeneity in monitoring across banks and through time. Better capitalised banks are more lenient monitors that intervene less with covenant violators. Importantly, this hands-off approach is associated with improved borrowers‘ performance. Beyond enhancing financial resilience, regulation that requires banks to hold more capital may thus also mitigate the tightening of credit terms when firms experience shocks.

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Effectiveness and (In)Efficiencies of Compensation Regulation: Evidence from the EU Banker Bonus Cap

Stefano Colonnello Michael Koetter Konstantin Wagner

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 7, 2018

Abstract

We study if the regulation of bank executive compensation has unintended consequences. Based on novel data on CEO and non-CEO executives in EU banking, we show that capping the variable-to-fixed compensation ratio did not induce executives to abandon the industry. Banks indemnified executives sufficiently for the shock to retain them by raising fixed and lowering variable compensation while complying with the cap. At the same time, banks‘ risk-adjusted performance deteriorated due to increased idiosyncratic risk. Collateral damage for the financial system as a whole appears modest though, as average co-movement of banks with the market declined under the cap.

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Internal Governance and Creditor Governance: Evidence from Credit Default Swaps

Stefano Colonnello

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 6, 2017

Abstract

I study the relation between internal governance and creditor governance. A deterioration in creditor governance may increase the agency costs of debt and managerial opportunism at the expense of shareholders. I exploit the introduction of credit default swaps (CDS) as a negative shock to creditor governance. I provide evidence consistent with shareholders pushing for a substitution effect between internal governance and creditor governance. Following CDS introduction, CDS firms reduce managerial risk-taking incentives relative to other firms. At the same time, after the start of CDS trading, CDS firms increase managerial wealth-performance sensitivity, board independence, and CEO turnover performance-sensitivity relative to other firms.

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