Private Ownership and the Cost of Public Debt: Evidence from the Bond Market
Posted: 3 Aug 2017
Date Written: August 1, 2017
A number of studies have examined the effect of public and private ownership on the cost of debt and conclude that the cost of debt of privately owned firms is higher, driven mainly by the poorer information environment in which these firms operate. We extend this strand of research in two ways. First, we identify and empirically establish the mechanisms that bring about a higher cost of debt to privately-owned firms, namely the limited access that these firms have to the equity capital market, their high rate of management and private-equity ownership, and their less conservative reporting. Second, we improve the reliability of the estimates of the difference in the cost of debt between privately- and publicly-owned firms. This is accomplished through the use of a sample consisting of publicly-owned and privately-owned firms that have public debt and are therefore subject to identical reporting requirements. Certain data and design features allow us to better control for other factors that might lead to the observed difference in the cost-of-debt between the two groups of firms. The results contribute to our understanding of the role of ownership type on the cost of capital.
Keywords: public firms, private firms, cost of debt, bond valuation, credit rating, and bankruptcy
JEL Classification: G30, G32, G33, M41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation