Debt and Ownership Structure: Evidence from Italy

Corporate Governance: The international journal of business in society, Vol. 16, No. 5

Posted: 18 Sep 2016

See all articles by Fabrizio Rossi

Fabrizio Rossi

University of Cassino and Southern Lazio

Richard J. Cebula

Armstrong Atlantic State University; Jacksonville University (Florida)

Date Written: October 1, 2016

Abstract

Purpose: The objective of this study is to investigate the relationship between the debt and ownership structure of a sample of Italian listed companies in order to measure the role assumed in the control and monitoring of agency costs.

Design/methodology/approach: This study examines a balanced panel data using both a Random Effects Model and a Generalized Method of Moments (GMM) model in order to better capture any problems related to the endogeneity of the variables in the model.

Findings: The results provide evidence of a positive relationship between debt and ownership concentration on the one hand, and a negative relationship between debt and institutional investors on the other hand. The debt seems to assume both functions, i.e., the disciplinary role of substitute at low levels of ownership concentration and a complementary role at high levels of ownership concentration.

Practical Implications: This study provides three practical implications. The first is that the complementary between debt and ownership concentration provides evidence of the entrenchment effect and tends to weaken the company financially. Second, the results also provide useful prompts to policy makers who should encourage the presence of institutional investors.

Third, the policy makers should also encourage the expansion of the stock market in order to enhance the protection of shareholders, reduce private control benefits and provide Italy the same opportunities as other common and civil law countries to collect risk capital, avoiding the abuse of debt.

Originality/Value: The empirical results suggest that ownership concentration increases the degree of corporate debt, whereas institutional investors assume the disciplinary role of monitoring and controlling agency costs. The results provide evidence of both the entrenchment effect and the alignment-of-interests hypothesis and that the expropriation theory seems to prevail over the control and monitoring role.

Keywords: corporate ownership, GMM, panel data, corporate governance, corporate finances, public companies, Debts

JEL Classification: G23, G32, G34

Suggested Citation

Rossi, Fabrizio and Cebula, Richard J., Debt and Ownership Structure: Evidence from Italy (October 1, 2016). Corporate Governance: The international journal of business in society, Vol. 16, No. 5. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2838923

Fabrizio Rossi (Contact Author)

University of Cassino and Southern Lazio ( email )

Via G. Di Biasio, 43
Cassino, Frosinone 03043
Italy

Richard J. Cebula

Armstrong Atlantic State University ( email )

11935 Abercorn Street
Savannah, GA 31419
912-921-3781 (Phone)
912-921-3782 (Fax)

Jacksonville University (Florida) ( email )

Jacksonville, FL 32211
United States

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