Contracts with Benefits: The Implementation of Impact Investing

64 Pages Posted: 26 Apr 2018 Last revised: 1 Nov 2018

See all articles by Christopher Geczy

Christopher Geczy

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School, Finance Department

Jessica Jeffers

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business

David K. Musto

University of Pennsylvania - Finance Department

Anne M. Tucker

Georgia State University College of Law

Date Written: October 26, 2018

Abstract

Impact investing private equity and venture capital funds are a rapidly emerging force in capital markets, premised on the service of two goals at once: a financial goal as well as a social-benefit goal. The addition of this second objective complicates the already challenging problem of aligning incentives across layers of agency, and raises the question of how contracting practices should adapt. We draw on contract theory and a unique set of legal documents from impact funds to answer this both normatively and positively. Contracts struck by impact funds, both forward to portfolio companies and back to investors, use new terms to directly operationalize impact, and also adjust the use of existing terms on governance, investor protection, and other concerns to facilitate it. Moreover, funds’ direct contracting on impact with investors passes through to their contracting with portfolio companies. For the most part, observed contracting terms align with theory, though they also differ in interesting ways, such as on compensation and covenants. Finally, we find evidence that different forms of contracting serve complementary roles in supporting impact.

Keywords: impact investing, venture capital, private equity, socially responsible investment, sustainable investing, corporate social responsibility, contracts

JEL Classification: D64, D86, G24, G32, K12, M14

Suggested Citation

Geczy, Christopher Charles and Jeffers, Jessica and Musto, David K. and Tucker, Anne M., Contracts with Benefits: The Implementation of Impact Investing (October 26, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3159731 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3159731

Christopher Charles Geczy

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School, Finance Department ( email )

The Wharton School
3620 Locust Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
(215) 898-1698 (Phone)
(215) 898-6200 (Fax)

Jessica Jeffers (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

David K. Musto

University of Pennsylvania - Finance Department ( email )

The Wharton School
3620 Locust Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

Anne M. Tucker

Georgia State University College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 4037
Atlanta, GA 30302-4037
United States
(404) 413- 9179 (Phone)

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