On the Magnitude of Stockholder-Bondholder Conflicts
38 Pages Posted: 13 Jan 1997
Date Written: January 1997
This paper numerically estimates the magnitude of the stockholder/bondholder conflict. Given a standard valuation model with parameters picked from the data, we compute the expected change in firm value and decompose this change into stockholder and bondholder components. We then characterize the set of positive net present value projects that stockholders would prefer to ignore (the "underinvestment problem") and the set of negative net present value projects that stockholders would like to accept (the "overinvestment problem").
The results quantify the distortions from both underinvestment and overinvestment and verify that both increase with the quantity of debt in the capital structure. For example, if the risk-free rate is 7.16%, stockholders of an all-equity firm will accept only risk-free projects with a return higher than this rate. When the firm has a 20% debt to total capital ratio, the minimum acceptable return is 7.53%, and when the debt to total capital ratio is 40%, the hurdle rate increases to 8.01%. However, this effect is far too small to offset the value of the tax shields associated with debt, and thus is unable to explain the vast majority of variation in capital structure.
JEL Classification: G10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation