Inattention, Agency Conflicts, and the Cost of Debt

Posted: 12 Feb 2020

See all articles by Sadok El Ghoul

Sadok El Ghoul

University of Alberta - Campus Saint-Jean

Omrane Guedhami

University of South Carolina - Moore School of Business

Sattar Mansi

Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University

Hyo Jin Yoon

University of South Carolina

Date Written: January 15, 2020

Abstract

We examine whether inattention in the equity market provides predictive information to investors in the bond market. Using a new measure of shareholder inattention based on exogenous industry shocks to institutional investor portfolios, we find a positive and significant relation between firms with distracted institutional shareholders and the cost of debt financing. This effect is stronger for firms with more powerful CEOs, firms with higher information asymmetries, and firms operating in less competitive product markets. Additional analysis suggests mechanisms that reduce the bondholder-shareholder conflict — namely, institutional dual holders and bond covenants — attenuate the increase in bond yield spreads resulting from greater shareholder distraction. In contrast to the institutional shareholder setting, we find little evidence of differences in yield spreads associated with retail investor inattention using search frequency in Google. Our findings are robust to controlling for the presence of other external monitors such as credit rating agencies, institutional investors, financial analysts, and Big 4 auditors. Overall, these results suggest that shareholder inattention in the equity market is consequential to investors in the bond market.

Keywords: Inattention, Agency Conflicts, Bondholder–Shareholder Conflict, Cost of Debt

JEL Classification: G23, G34

Suggested Citation

El Ghoul, Sadok and Guedhami, Omrane and Mansi, Sattar and Yoon, Hyo Jin, Inattention, Agency Conflicts, and the Cost of Debt (January 15, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3520239

Sadok El Ghoul (Contact Author)

University of Alberta - Campus Saint-Jean ( email )

Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2R3
Canada
780-465-8725 (Phone)
780-465-8760 (Fax)

Omrane Guedhami

University of South Carolina - Moore School of Business ( email )

Columbia, SC
United States

Sattar Mansi

Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University ( email )

Hyo Jin Yoon

University of South Carolina ( email )

701 Main Street
Columbia, SC 29208
United States

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