Credit Allocation when Borrowers are Economically Linked: An Empirical Analysis of Bank Loans to Corporate Customers
Journal of Corporate Finance,
Using detailed loan level data, we examine bank lending to corporate customers relying on principal suppliers. Customers experience larger loan spreads, higher intensity of covenants and greater likelihood of requiring collateral when they depend more on the principal supplier for inputs. The positive association between the customer’s loan spread and its dependence on the principal supplier is less pronounced when the bank has a prior loan outstanding with the principal supplier, and when the bank has higher market share in the industry. Longer relationships between the customer and its principal supplier, and between the bank and the principal supplier, mitigate lending constraints. The evidence is consistent with corporate suppliers serving as an informational bridge between the lender and the customer.
Suppliers as Liquidity Insurers
We examine how financial constraints in portfolios of suppliers affect cash holdings at the level of the customer. Utilizing a data set of private and public French companies and their suppliers, we show that customers rely on their financially unconstrained suppliers to provide them with backup liquidity, and that they stockpile approximately 10% less cash than customers with constrained suppliers. This effect persisted during the global financial crisis, highlighting that suppliers may be viable insurers of liquidity even when financing from banks and other external channels is unavailable. We further show that customers with unconstrained suppliers also simultaneously receive more trade credit; that the reduction in cash holdings is greater for firms with stronger ties to their unconstrained suppliers; and that customers reduce their cash holdings following a significant relaxation in their suppliers’ financial constraints through an IPO. Taken together, the results provide important nuance regarding the implications of supplier portfolios and financial constraints on firm liquidity management.
Payment Defaults and Interfirm Liquidity Provision
Review of Finance,
Using a unique data set on French firms, we show that credit constrained firms that face liquidity shocks are more likely to default on their payments to suppliers. Credit constrained firms pass on a sizeable fraction of such shocks to their suppliers. This is consistent with the idea that firms provide liquidity insurance to each other and that this mechanism is able to alleviate credit constraints. We show that the chain of defaults stops when it reaches unconstrained firms. Liquidity appears to be allocated from firms with access to outside finance to credit constrained firms along supply chains.