Corporate Social Responsibility, Credit Rating, and Private Debt Contracting: New Evidence from Syndicated Loan Market
53 Pages Posted: 24 Mar 2017 Last revised: 25 Mar 2017
Date Written: March 23, 2017
We examine the impact of corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities on loan spreads of syndicated bank loans, with a particular interest in how CSR and credit ratings are interrelated as a joint determinant of loan spreads. Focusing on private debt contracts, we show that both CSR strengths and concerns are related to their loan spreads. CSR strengths work to lower firm risk, hence reducing the loan spread, whereas CSR concerns increase firm risk, thus increasing the loan spread. Once we include detailed credit rating information in the models, however, CSR concerns lose significance, but CSR strengths remain significantly related to the loan spread. We also find that both CSR strengths and CSR concerns are related to loan spread for non-rated firms, but the CSR concern effect is stronger than the CSR strength effect for these firms. A further test shows that firm risk measured by stock return volatility plays as a direct channel through which a firm’s CSR activities affect loan spreads, whose result lends further support to our main results. Overall, our results provide strong evidence that CSR matters to the pricing of loan contracts beyond credit rating information and the results remain robust to the possible firm size effect and the endogeneity issues.
Keywords: Corporate social responsibility, Loan spread, Credit ratings, Private debt contracting
JEL Classification: G24, G34
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation