Earnings Management via Not-wholly-owned Subsidiaries
45 Pages Posted: 14 Jun 2019
Date Written: May 30, 2019
We explore a new mechanism of earnings management whereby a parent company shifts income from not-wholly-owned subsidiaries to itself to avoid losses. Consolidated net income attributable to the parent company increases if earnings are shifted from not-wholly-owned subsidiaries to the parent, as the parent company enjoys the full amount of earnings shifted rather than sharing earnings with minority investors. In general, net income and noncontrolling interest in subsidiary earnings exhibit a strong positive correlation, suggesting that a firm’s earnings performance tends to co-move with its subsidiaries’ earnings. However, this positive relation turns significantly negative for firms just meeting or beating zero earnings, indicating that firms opportunistically decrease earnings of not-wholly-owned subsidiaries to manage consolidated net income to avoid losses. Income shifting from subsidiaries to the parent firm is mainly driven by firms with a very large percentage of noncontrolling ownership. In addition, related-party transactions and concurrent appointment of a parent’s top management member to subsidiaries’ management team play a complementary role in facilitating such income shifting. Overall, our evidence not only demonstrates a new mechanism of earnings management via not-wholly-owned subsidiaries, but also highlights the negative consequences to minority investors of income shifting from subsidiaries to the publicly listed company.
Keywords: earnings management; income shifting; non-wholly-owned subsidiaries
JEL Classification: M40; M41; G12; G1
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation