Blocking Block-Formation: Evidence from Private Loan Contracts
72 Pages Posted: 10 Jun 2019 Last revised: 29 Aug 2023
Date Written: August 28, 2023
Does the structure of the borrower's equity ownership matter in debt contracting? This paper addresses this question by examining change in control clauses. These clauses are pervasive in loan contracts, yet their terms are not boilerplate. Examining 14,940 contracts, we document significant heterogeneity in the use and size of ownership caps, which limit large equity block formation. Overall, our evidence indicates that the way equity capital is distributed and potential conflicts of interest among shareholders matter to lenders. Lenders set lower caps to mitigate risks arising from activism, takeovers, within-syndicate coordination costs, and power contests among shareholders. We confirm some of these effects using two quasi-natural experiments. Caps below 50% are associated with a drop in firm value but not in the cost of debt, consistent with exacerbated firm-manager agency costs. Finally, two findings shed light on ways creditors may influence corporate governance: the largest block size increases when these minority block restrictions expire, and the likelihood of withdrawing an announced buyback increases during the life of these loans.
Keywords: Equity Block Formation, Change in Control, Debt Contracting
JEL Classification: G20, G32, G34
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation