Agency Costs of Debt in Conglomerate Firms

72 Pages Posted: 4 Oct 2017 Last revised: 16 May 2022

Date Written: October 22, 2020


I use an accounting reform to assess the agency cost of debt in diversified firms. Those firms that switch from single to multiple segments following the reform suffer a 12% increase in their bond spread when compared to their stand-alone peers. Consistent with lenders anticipating under-investment and asset substitution incentives, diversified firms with high cash-flow volatility across divisions suffer the highest increase in borrowing costs. I employ a novel approach that allows abstracting from unobservable characteristics that would otherwise influence the pricing of diversified firms' debt.

Keywords: Diversified Firms, Cost of Debt, Free Cash Flow, Subsidiary Debt, Internal Capital Markets, Bonds

JEL Classification: G12, G15, G30, L22

Suggested Citation

Altieri, Michela, Agency Costs of Debt in Conglomerate Firms (October 22, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Michela Altieri (Contact Author)

Luiss Guido Carli ( email )

viale Romania 32
Rome, ND RM 00197

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