Powerful CEOs and Capital Structure Decisions: Evidence from the CEO Pay Slice (CPS)
13 Pages Posted: 12 Dec 2013
Date Written: December 11, 2013
Motivated by agency theory, we explore how powerful CEOs view leverage. Due to the agency conflict, CEOs may adopt sub-optimal leverage levels that promote their own private benefits at the expense of shareholders. Using Bebchuk, Cremers, and Peyer’s (2011) CEO pay slice (CPS) to gauge CEO power, we find that powerful CEOs view leverage negatively and avoid high debt. However, CEOs appears to adopt sub-optimal leverage only when their power is sufficiently consolidated. Relatively weak CEOs do not seem to avoid leverage. The effect of CEO power on capital structure decisions is thus non-monotonic. Our results imply that agency problems lead to self-serving behavior only when managers command sufficient influence in the company. Finally, we also show that our conclusion is unlikely confounded by endogeneity.
Keywords: capital structure, leverage, agency problems, CEO power, agency conflict, debt, powerful CEOs
JEL Classification: G32, G34
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation