The Use of Covenants: An Empirical Analysis of Venture Partnership Agreements

Journal of Law and Economics, Vol. 39, October, 1996.

Posted: 24 Apr 1996

See all articles by Paul A. Gompers

Paul A. Gompers

Harvard Business School - Finance Unit; Harvard University - Entrepreneurial Management Unit; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

Josh Lerner

Harvard Business School - Finance Unit; Harvard University - Entrepreneurial Management Unit; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Abstract

This paper examines covenants in 140 partnership agreements establishing venture capital funds. Despite the similar objectives and structures of these funds and the relatively limited number of contracting parties, the agreements are quite heterogenous in their inclusion of covenants. We examine two complementary hypotheses that suggest when covenants will be used. Covenant use may be determined by the extent of potential agency problems: because covenants are costly to negotiate and monitor, they will only be employed when these problems are severe. Alternatively, covenant use may reflect the supply and demand conditions in the venture capital industry. The price of venture capital services may shift if the demand for venture funds changes while the supply of fund managers remains fixed in the short run. The evidence suggests that both factors are important. This is in contrast to previous studies which have either focused exclusively on costly contracting or provided only weak support for the effects of supply and demand on contracts.

JEL Classification: G24, K12

Suggested Citation

Gompers, Paul A. and Lerner, Josh, The Use of Covenants: An Empirical Analysis of Venture Partnership Agreements. Journal of Law and Economics, Vol. 39, October, 1996.. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=10053

Paul A. Gompers

Harvard Business School - Finance Unit ( email )

Boston, MA 02163
United States
617-495-6297 (Phone)
617-496-8443 (Fax)

Harvard University - Entrepreneurial Management Unit ( email )

Cambridge, MA 02163
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

c/o ECARES ULB CP 114
B-1050 Brussels
Belgium

HOME PAGE: http://www.ecgi.org

Josh Lerner (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School - Finance Unit ( email )

Boston, MA 02163
United States
617-495-6065 (Phone)
617-496-7357 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.people.hbs.edu/jlerner/

Harvard University - Entrepreneurial Management Unit

Cambridge, MA 02163
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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