58 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2005
Date Written: November 2005
In this paper, we investigate how corporate governance impacts firm value by examining both the value and the use of cash holdings in poorly and well governed firms. Cash represents a large and growing fraction of corporate assets and generally is at the discretion of management. We use several measures of corporate governance and show that governance has a substantial impact on firm value through its impact on cash: $1.00 of cash in a poorly governed firm is valued by the market at only $0.42 to $0.88, depending on the measure of governance. Good governance approximately doubles this value of cash. Furthermore, governance has a significant impact on how firms use cash. We show that firms with poor corporate governance dissipate cash quickly and in ways that significantly reduce operating performance. This negative impact of large cash holdings on future operating performance is cancelled out if the firm is well governed. All of our results hold after controlling for the level of acquisitions undertaken by cash rich firms, indicating that acquisitions are not solely responsible for the value destruction in poorly governed, cash rich firms. The findings presented in this paper provide direct evidence of how governance can improve or destroy firm value and insight into the importance of governance in determining corporate cash policy.
Keywords: Cash Holdings, Corporate Governance, Ownership Structure, Take-Over Provisions, Firm Value
JEL Classification: G30, G32, G34
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