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Title: Corporate diversification, firm value and financial management
Author: Nguyen, Tat Thang
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2013
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The objective of this thesis is to investigate the influence of corporate diversification on firm value and financial management. The first study in the thesis examines whether and how organisational learning from diversification experience affects the crosssectional variation of the value of diversified firms. Three main findings are reported: first, a U-shaped relationship between diversification value and diversification experience is identified; second, greater similarity in industries between diversifications results in a higher diversification value. Finally, the relationship between the value of diversification and the temporal interval between diversifications forms an inverted Ushaped curve. In an extended analysis, external learning from the experience of others is shown to affect diversification value in a cubic pattern. While investigating cross-sectional distribution of diversification value is an increasingly common approach to the topic, research on the average value effect of diversification remain important in the literature. The second study directly investigates the effect of diversification on investor wealth. By adopting a novel portfolio simulation approach, the study shows that investing in portfolios of diversified firms provides a higher return and lower risk than investing in portfolios of specialised firms. Further analysis, however, shows that these benefits from corporate diversification can be better achieved by shareholders’ self-diversified portfolios. This finding implies that corporate diversification may not be necessary for shareholders’ benefit. The final analysis in the study provides evidence that firm diversification is more likely motivated by the managerial risk preferences. The relationship between diversification and firm value may be explained by the diversification effects on firm operations. Researchers often relate diversification discount to wasteful spending by diversified firms. The third study examines financial management in diversified firms by looking at how these firms adjust their cash flows. More specifically, following the findings of Duchin (2010) and Subramaniam, Tang, Yue and Zhou (2011) that diversified firms hold significantly less cash than specialised firms, the study investigates how diversified firms manage their cash flows to achieve this lower cash balance. The study finds that diversified firms have a higher free cash flow (as a result of having similar operating cash flow but lower investing cash flow), and a lower financing cash flow compared to specialised firms. More particularly, it shows that diversified firms issue less debt and pay out more dividends, relative to specialised firms. The study also provides evidence of the active role of internal capital markets in a firm’s financial management. Collectively, three major conclusions can be withdrawn. First, learning from both internal and external diversification experience has a significant effect on the value of diversification. Second, investing in portfolios of diversified firms generates better results than does investing in portfolios of specialised firms. Thus, the conventional wisdom in the literature that diversification destroys shareholder wealth may not be wholly correct. Third, the findings that diversified firms have similar operating cash flow, lower investing cash flow, higher dividends and lower cash holdings do not indicate that such firms have overinvestment problems.
Supervisor: Cai, Charlie Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available