Passive Debt Ownership and Corporate Financial Policy

48 Pages Posted: 25 Nov 2019

See all articles by Brian Gibbons

Brian Gibbons

Oregon State University College of Business

Date Written: November 15, 2019


A recent dramatic rise in the assets managed by passive corporate debt funds has profound implications for firm financing and payout policy. I use fund-specific flows to isolate exogenous increases in firm-level passive debt ownership at a firm. Firms respond to higher levels of passive debt ownership by increasing leverage, consistent with a recapitalization. More passive debt ownership does not lead to risk-shifting, but rather an increase in direct payouts to shareholders. I show that passive debtholders facilitate these effects by reducing aggregate ex-ante and ex-post monitoring. The presence of a bank monitor mitigates the relationship between passive debt ownership and increased payout.

Keywords: Passive Investing, Index Funds, Corporate Debt, Capital Structure, Real Investment, Payout Decisions, Monitoring

JEL Classification: G23, G32, G34, G35

Suggested Citation

Gibbons, Brian, Passive Debt Ownership and Corporate Financial Policy (November 15, 2019). Available at SSRN: or

Brian Gibbons (Contact Author)

Oregon State University College of Business ( email )

Corvallis, OR 97331
United States

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