Bloomberg Intelligence Roundtable on the Theory and Practice of Capital Structure Management
16 Pages Posted: 1 Mar 2023
Date Written: Fall 2017
Since the formulation of the M&M propositions almost 60 years ago, financial economists have been debating whether there is such a thing as an optimal capital structure—a proportion of debt to equity that maximizes shareholder value. Some finance scholars have followed M&M in arguing that both capital structure and dividend policy are largely “irrelevant” in the sense that they have no significant, predictable effects on corporate market values. Another school of thought holds that corporate financing choices reflect an attempt by corporate managers to balance the tax shields and disciplinary benefits of greater debt against the costs of financial distress. Yet another theory says that companies do not have capital structure targets, but simply follow a financial “pecking order” in which retained earnings are preferred to outside financing, and debt is preferred to equity when outside funding is required. In this roundtable, a leading finance professor is joined by six practitioners in discussing whether and how capital structure decisions and payout policies can create value, with special attention to the healthcare industry. The consensus is that for those parts of the pharma industry with large growth opportunities, equity financing should be the main source of capital. But for those parts of the industry with shrinking prospects, increasing levels of debt and raising dividends are recommended.
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