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Title: Leverage and debt maturity : the implication of size and market quotation
Author: Kashefi Pour, Eilnaz
Awarding Body: City University
Current Institution: City, University of London
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis aims to add empirical evidence to the corporate finance literature by looking at the financing decisions with a specific application to small companies in the context of the UK relatively highly regulated Main market, versus the lightly regulated Alternative Investment Market (AIM). I do this by gathering data on all quoted dead and alive companies in both markets from 1995 to 2008. I then split my sample firms in each market into different size groups and test my hypothesis within and across each group and each market. The thesis consists of six chapters. After an introductory chapter, I review the existing literature on capital structure and debt maturity controversies with an emphasis on recent empirical work. The next three chapters consist of three research papers. The first paper looks at the capital structure decisions of companies quoted in AIM and Main market across different size groups. In the second research paper, the maturity structure of debt is investigated in both markets. The third research paper tests the determinants of the delisting decision, particularly the effect of leverage using a sample of AIM companies. In the last chapter, I provide a summary of the main conclusions of the study and highlight some promising ideas for future research. The first empirical chapter analyses the drivers of leverage across firms' sizes and market of quotation. I find that companies that are listed on the Main market have higher leverage than those listed on AIM. My results show that AIM companies are subject to higher business risk and tend to have lower profitability and tangible assets. In addition, in both markets, small companies are different from large firms in their level of leverage, tangibility of assets, and profitability, suggesting that the drivers of the financing choice are size dependent. Interestingly, the impact of taxation is limited to only large companies in both markets. Similarly, the impact of the agency conflict is also limited to large companies, as for small firms I find a positive relationship between leverage and growth opportunities, in contrast to the predictions of the agency theory. These results suggest that size rather than market of quotation is more likely to explain firms' leverage. However, I find that the market of quotation affects their speed of adjustment toward target leverage ratios. Using the dynamic model of capital structure, I find that in the Main market, small companies adjust more rapidly than large firms, suggesting that they rely more on bank debt and thus result in lower costs of adjustment. In contrast, large firms on the AIM adjust more rapidly than small companies, suggesting that small AIM companies are subject to the highest costs of adjustment as they have the highest business risk and the lowest profitability. The second empirical paper investigates the determinants of the structure of debt maturity across firms' size groups in both markets. I find that firms quoted in the Main market use longer maturity of debt in contrast to their AIM counterparts. However, the structure of debt maturity is different between small and large companies, as small companies use shorter debt maturity. Moreover, I find that the determinants of debt maturity are relatively different across the two sets of markets, suggesting that the market of quotation, are likely to affect the structure of debt maturity. Particularly, the effect of leverage is mixed in those markets. In the Main market, companies with higher leverage use more long-term debt in contrast to those quoted in the AIM. In line with my results in the previous chapter, I find that the speed of adjustment depends on the market of quotation. Using a dynamic framework, I find that companies have a target debt maturity, but, while in the AIM large companies adjust more rapidly than small companies, I find the opposite in the Main market. I also contribute to the literature by assessing the impact of firm's life cycle on its choice of debt maturity. I use a sample of newly listed firms and assess the evolution of the maturity structure of their debt four years after their IPO. I find strong differences across the two markets. In the Main market, my empirical evidence shows that in contrast with small companies, large companies change the structure of their debt maturity significantly as they are more likely to use longer maturity of debt in the post-IPO period. While in the AIM, the structure of debt maturity is not affected by size as neither large companies nor small companies change their debt maturity significantly. In the last empirical chapter, I study the impact of leverage on the delisting decision. I address the following questions: Do firms delist from the stock market because they are unable to raise equity capital and redress their balance sheet? Previous studies state that raising equity capital is one of the main benefits of stock market quotation. I expect firms that are not likely to take advantage of this benefit to have higher listing costs and more likely to delist. I use leverage as a proxy variable and a sample of voluntary delisting from AIM. I find that delisted companies have higher leverage as they did not raise equity capital over their public life. My results suggest that companies with higher leverage are more likely to delist voluntarily. These results hold even after controlling for agency conflicts, liquidity, and asymmetric information. I also investigate how the market reacts to the delisting announcement. I find that on the announcement date, stock prices decrease significantly. However, this reaction is not consistent with previous studies that report positive excess returns for companies that go private through different forms of buyouts. The voluntary delisting does not deliver good news to the market and hence voluntary delisting leads to a decrease in stock prices. I also find that firms that increased their leverage in the year prior to the delisting decision generate significantly lower excess returns than other firms. I compare my results to firms that delisted from the AIM but moved to the Main market. I find that that these firms generate statistically higher and positive returns than the remaining firms that delisted voluntarily. My results highlight the negative impact of leverage and a lack of equity financing on firms' market valuation. My results contribute to the literature and to policy making in several ways. First, I test various controversial and new hypotheses by focussing on differences in institutional settings between the AIM and the Main market. The former is less regulated and it is more likely to attract younger, high growth, and riskier companies. These differences allow me to test various hypotheses developed in previous literature relating to the financing choices of firms. In addition, I provide a deeper analysis of the impact of size on the firms' financing choices. I focus on the differences in leverages across the two, markets, changes in maturity from the IPQ dates, and the drivers of the decision and timing from the IPQ date of companies in the UK. Unlike previous studies, I show that the theoretical determinants of leverage, such as taxation and agency costs, across firms' size groups are not homogeneous, independently of the market quotation. However, I find significant differences across the two markets in terms of dynamic changes in leverage. In addition, my results highlight the impact of leverage on the decision to delist, and imply that policy makers need to facilitate the financing of companies when they list on the market, so that the benefits of listings outweigh the costs, and firms will not rush to voluntary delisting.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HG Finance